Every Saturday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Saving Eutychus: How to Preach God’s Word & Keep People Awake (kindle version) by Gary Millar & Phil Campbell.
This is a short read, coming in at 127 pages, but packs a lot of information in it.
The book looks at the story in Acts, where Paul is preaching and Eutychus falls asleep and falls out of a window and tries to help pastors keep the attention of their churches so they will hear God’s word.
Preaching is hard work. The expectations because of the internet and rise of megachurch pastors has made what people expect out of sermons higher than they used to be. This isn’t a bad thing. Preaching should be hard work because it is heart work. Keeping the attention of your church is hard because they often come in tired on a Sunday morning, staying up too late on Saturday, run down from the week they just had, beat down by life, sitting with their smart phones capable of doing anything but listen in church. It is stacked against pastors, but not impossible.
Here are a few things that jumped out in reading it:
- Preaching should never bore people to death.
- God doesn’t use people because they are gifted. He uses people (even preachers) because he is gracious.
- The key to preaching, then, is to make the message of the text obvious. Help people to see it and feel it. Help people to understand the text.
- The kind of preaching that changes people’s lives, that changes people’s hearts, is preaching that allows the text to speak.
- Why does repetition help? Because, more than anything else, repetition regulates the information flow. Too much information, flowing too quickly, makes people feel like they’re drinking from a fire hose.
- In illustrations, if there are no people, there’s no story.
- No matter where you’re preaching from, it’s easy to lose sight of the gospel of what Jesus has done and replace it with a whole lot of concrete and persuasive and guilt-inducing applications about what we need to do
- The worst thing that can happen when we finish preaching is that someone will walk out the door of the church buoyed by their own resolve to try harder.
- it’s essential that we never bury the gospel of what Jesus has done in an avalanche of great ideas about what we need to do
- There is a difference between doing biblical theology and preaching in a way that is shaped by biblical theology.
If you preach, this short book is one worth picking up and getting some ideas from.