Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Review - "Deep Preaching" by J. Kent Edwards

In preparation for my current doctoral course at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School I recently read J. Kent Edwards book Deep Preaching: Creating Sermons that Go Beyond the Superficial (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2009). Edwards argues that deep preaching is about moving from exegetically precise but dry preaching to awe-inspiring, life-transforming preaching. It’s about moving from the trite to the substantial. Instead of playing marbles with diamonds, preachers must learn to handle and admire and preach the Bible in a manner worthy of what it actually is—the living Word of God.

Accordingly, the book starts by dealing with various challenges to preaching in the modern world like the avalanche of information available to preachers and people alike, the widespread use of media and corollary issues related to attention and entertainment, and the flood of expectations that pound down upon local pastors every day of their ministries. 

Edwards understandably asks why we should preach at all, and then offers theological, historical, and practical reasons why preaching is, and always will be, central to God's gospel strategy in the world. With the place of preaching firmly established, Edwards moves on to argue that deep sermons cannot be preached by shallow people, rather, profound sermons can only emerge from people who have a profound relationship with God. The heart of such a relationship is God's passionate and relentless pursuit of his people, a pursuit that drives biblical preachers to seek God with passion and deep hunger. 

In the context of this kind of passionate relationship, then preachers ought to seek to preach the Word of God on its own terms, working through one passage at a time and seeking to unearth and articulate the "big idea" of each one. Having done this hard and important work, the preacher ought then to enter into "the closet" of prayer, meditation, and fasting in order to allow the Holy Spirit to do his work of teaching, empowering, impassioning, and applying the "big idea" to life. In order to do this well, the preacher must leave aside his gadgets and tools, and simply come into God's presence with a Bible and a blank notepad. The idea here is to spend as much time as necessary in the presence of God, allowing him to lead us where he will. 

To help guide this time, Edwards suggests that we spend our time looking backward, upward, inward, outward, and forward, and he offers five questions that will help us do so: 

1. Why was this big idea necessary for the original recipients? 
2, Looking Upward: What is God revealing about himself through this big idea?
3, Looking Inward: What is God saying to me through this big idea?
4: Looking Outward: What does God want to accomplish through this big idea?
5: Looking Forward: What could negate the progress I’ve made with this big idea, i.e., how will Satan seek to attack me and the congregation, and how can I counter-attack? 

Edwards concludes the book by outlining eight aspects of deep sermons and six aspects of deep preachers. This section of the book is basic and could have been improved by at least offering suggestions on how preachers might go about writing deep sermons, but having said that, it is insightful and helpful for preachers who are interested in putting Edwards' wisdom into practice. 

I really enjoyed reading this book and I will undoubtedly benefit from it as a preacher. Edwards is articulate and creative, and obviously practiced what he preached in the writing of this book--that is, he prayed, meditated, and fasted as he wrote, it's pretty obvious. Although much of his wisdom for preaching is old wisdom, his plea to come away and spend more time with the Lord is magnetic. Surely the impact of this book upon my life is that I will indeed invest more minutes--more hours--in the presence of Jesus as I prepare to preach and this will glorify God, help others, and augment my joy. 

If you're a preacher, or think you might want to be, you should read this book. It's worth every penny and whatever time you'll invest in reading it. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your review on Deep preaching. I was recommended by one of my friend to read this book. I was looking for reviews and i found your review very helpful. Thank you. God bless you and the Ministry.