If you have ever heard Tim Keller preach I am sure you have come away thinking “How does he do that?” Well the great news is that Keller has now written a book called Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism that is both theologically informed and extremely practical. To cut to the chase, this book is a must read for anyone who preaches.
In the prologue, Keller asks the question what makes a sermon good or great? He helps us see that the difference between a bad and a good sermon is the skill of the preacher in exegeting and applying a text and delivering the content. While the difference between a good and a great sermon is up to the power of the Holy Spirit. But he says good preaching will do two things preach Christ and preach to the cultural heart.
Just like Tim Keller’s sermons the rest of the book is divided up into three parts (or points):
- Serving the Word
- Reaching the People
- In Demonstration of the Spirit and of Power
The first section has three chapters:
- Preaching the Word
- Preaching the gospel Every Time
- Preaching Christ from all of Scripture
If you are committed to reformed theology, biblical theology and expositional preaching there is really nothing that is groundbreaking in these chapters. He basically says we should preach from biblical texts which set the shape and the content of the sermon and in expositing these texts we point to the hero of every text, Jesus.
The second section, Reaching the People, is really where the gold is in this book. In this section Keller tries to not only persuade us of the importance of preaching to our culture and to the hearts of our people but Keller also shows us how it is done. Keller says that contextualized preaching (or preaching to our culture) uses every day language that also uses culturally relevant sources and authorities to persuade people of the relevance and the truth of the theology of the Bible. In chapter 5 Keller gives us so many examples of how we could confront the beliefs of our culture in ways that are accessible and relevant to the people we are trying to reach and their lives. This is a chapter I have and will continue to go back to in my sermon preparation. In Chapter 6 Keller talks about preaching to the heart he say that “Preaching cannot be simply accurate and sound. It must capture the listeners interests and imaginations; it must penetrate their hearts.” (page 157). To do this we must preach affectionately, imaginatively, wondrously, memorably, christocentrically and practically, In this chapter Keller gives us pointer in how to do preach in these ways.
In the last section on preaching in the Spirit’s power Keller says that our listeners will have a sense of the Spirit working through us.The point of this chapter is that the preacher’s power comes from his life that is in concert with the theology he preaches. This is refreshing and confronting point. It is refreshing because our world puts so much emphasis on our gifts and it is confronting because it makes me look at my life and see whether my life is in accord with my doctrine.
In the appendix Keller takes us through how he prepares an expository sermon.
This is a great book for anyone who preaches. There is loads here to chew on, to be challenged by, to be encouraged by and to apply. If you are a paid leader in ministry this is a must read.
Pick up a copy of Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism today!