I love to preach and read a lot of books about preaching. I though for this post I would recommend a few of my favorites.
Leonard Sweet’s book Giving Blood: A Fresh Paradigm for Preaching is the best preaching book I have read in a long time. It helps show Len’s exceptional way of using Metaphor to bring Biblical concepts to life. It has sections on creativity, finding and studying metaphors in scripture, looking at scripture more holistically, and putting yourself into your preaching. The last section of the book gets very practical. I especially learned from the chapter on handling criticism. This book should be required reading for all preachers.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. This is a business book about why some ideas stick while other ideas and visions get thrown away or ignored. It is very practical for understanding how to make sermons more memorable and impactful. Their other book is also helpful for helping making people and organizations make changes. It is called Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.
I was forced to read the book The Four Pages of the Sermon: A Guide to Biblical Preaching by Paul Scott Wilson for a seminary homiletics class. I hated it at first. Wilson suggests a structure of for sections: the problem in the text, the problem in the world, the answer in the text, and the answer in the world. I thought this structure was too confining it at first, but over time I have found that it was an excellent format when I had a text and did not know what to do with it.
Eugene Lowry’s work is great on preaching in a narrative form including The Homiletical Plot, Expanded Edition: The Sermon as Narrative Art Form and The Homiletical Beat: Why All Sermons Are Narrative. Lowry looks at the elements of story and talks about how they are needed for engaging sermons. There needs to be conflict that is built so that people invest in the story. At some point there is a turn when a new insight or piece of information is giving to move the story forward.
Fred Craddock has an approach to sermons in the same camp as Eugene Lowry. He too sees the importance of seeing the sermon as a journey and including the elements of story. Craddock’s basic texts are As One Without Authority: Fourth Edition Revised and with New Sermons and Overhearing the Gospel: Revised and Expanded Edition. His textbook on preaching is pretty technical and not really accessible. If you are new to Craddock I suggest Craddock on the Craft of Preaching. It is a series of lectures and workshops from his career including “Preaching as Storytelling” and “13 Ways to End a Sermon.” It is a very helpful resource.
My last recommendation is a surprisingly insightful book. It is called Preaching & The Emerging Church: An Examination of Four Founding Leaders: Mark Driscoll, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, and Doug Pagitt by John S. Bohannon. Bohannon is a baptist preacher and professor of preaching who takes a look at the trends in preaching in the emergent church. Bohannon critiques these four leaders but does so looking at underlying issues such as their view of scripture, perspectives on style, and their sensitivity to the postmodern world. The book ended up challenging me to think about my own underlying views and to consider how they shine through in my own preaching whether I realize it or not.