What Book on Preaching Would You Recommend above All Others?

If a young preacher stepped into your office asking for your best book on preaching, what would you suggest?

Before I go further, I ask that you would answer that question in the comments. With a little help, this post can be a wonderful resource for preachers looking to grow their craft.

Here’s how I would answer it—not as the seasoned preacher, but as the young one.

Below are the most formative preaching books and resources I’ve encountered over the years, almost all of them assigned to me by Bible college professors, seminary professors, and pastors.

I’ve grouped them by category and linked to the Logos resource where we carry them (publisher website when not). I’ve also ranked my top three from the list.

To learn the basics

Creative Bible Teaching (Gary J. Bredfeldt and Lawrence O. Richards)

This is the first book I ever read on preaching/teaching, and it remains a wonderful introduction to the basics of communicating biblical truth. It emphasizes preaching/teaching to people, not just preaching/teaching a truth.

To not be boring

Saving Eutychus (Gary Millar and Phil Campbell)

The humorous title says it all: this is a book about preaching sermons that keep your listeners awake. It’s authored by two men with disparate styles, but who share a passion for engaging sermons.

Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication, including the audio version (Andy Stanley)

Though I don’t share all of Stanley’s convictions, I do love his commitment to preaching one big idea clearly and engagingly. I read this book in Bible college, and it’s principles often tap my shoulder in the sermon writing process to say, “Clear the clutter. Say what you need to say, and say it in an interesting, personal way.”

To preach expositionally

Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today (David Helm)

This is my one book, the one I would hand to every preacher.

You can read it in under an hour, but you’ll refer to it over and over. I particularly enjoy the first chapter, where Helm describes several pitfalls of preaching. For example, “inebriated preaching”:

On those weeks when we have stood in the pulpit and leaned on the Bible to support what we wanted to say instead of saying only what God intended the Bible to say, we have been like a drunken man who leans on a lamppost—using it more for support than for illumination.

The other chapters guide you in applying context and theology to your preaching and then communicating it all as a cohesive whole to your particular audience. It’s the shortest yet most helpful book on preaching I know.

My ranking: 1st

Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon (Bryan Chapell)

There are dozens of books on expository preaching, but Chappell’s is the most thorough I’ve read. It’s meant to be a total guide to the craft, and I remember it as such.

Chapell also has Mobile Ed courses on the same subject.

To preach contextually

I would repeat here Expositional Preaching and also point to a ministry of Helm’s, the Charles Simeon Trust. The Charles Simeon Trust (CST) trains men and women for biblical exposition, and one of their emphases is preaching with contextual awareness, namely the contexts of biblical theology and systematic theology—integrating both disciplines into expository preaching without flattening the meaning of a particular text.

You’ll find those same principles covered in Expositional Preaching, but you can delve deeper into them through the various offerings of the CST, including in-person workshops.

To examine yourself

Preaching and Preachers, 40th Anniversary Edition (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

Lloyd-Jones is known as one of the greatest preachers of the last century, and reading this book is like having him as a preaching mentor. Its perfect 5-star rating on Amazon is no surprise to me.

Preaching & Preachers is a compilation of essays based on lectures he gave to seminary students in 1969. It is less about the nuts and bolts of preaching as it is the commitments and character of preachers. Lloyd-Jones has strong but well-grounded convictions that will sharpen every preacher to their core.

My ranking: 2nd

On Preaching: Personal & Pastoral Insights for the Preparation & Practice of Preaching (H.B. Charles Jr.)

I had the honor of editing this book and later hearing H.B. Charles preach at a church retreat, and he’s the real deal. What I love about these essays is the attention Charles gives to the heart of the preacher and the personal anecdotes that make it an engaging read. Full of personal and practical insights.

To preach to skeptics

Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism (Timothy Keller) — on sale this month

As is true with most of Keller’s works, there is an apologetic bent to this book that makes it stand out. I would call this required reading for any preacher, especially those preaching in more intellectual contexts.

My ranking: 3rd

Honorable mentions

These are books I’ve not read but that come highly recommended:

What are your favorites?

Please share your favorite book(s) in the comments below. As you can see from my list, most of my reading and training is in expository preaching, so I’m curious what’s out there for other approaches. (I would love to find a good book on the art of topical sermons.)

What Is Textual Criticism, and Why Is It Necessary?

The Bible was written at a time when the means for sharing documents were far different from the technology we have today.

When the church in Thessaloniki received a letter from the apostle Paul in the mid-first century, the believers there would have read it aloud in their gatherings, and then devoted followers who recognized the value of Paul’s words would have produced handwritten copies of the letter to pass around to a wider audience. By the end of the first century, Paul’s letters were being copied as a collection.

Copying manuscripts

Hand-copying of the Pauline corpus continued through the centuries, until Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type in fifteenth-century Germany. With some variation, this process of repeated hand-copying happened with every book in the Bible—the New Testament books in Greek, and the Old Testament books in Hebrew and Aramaic.

In addition to these original language manuscripts, Christians translated their sacred texts into other languages. The Old Testament documents were translated into Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac, and the New Testament documents were translated into Latin, Coptic, and Syriac, followed later by Gothic, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic, Slavonic, and Arabic. The Bible was repeatedly recopied within each of these languages. Further, Jewish and Christian scholars quoted the sacred texts in their own writings, which others also copied and translated to dispense and preserve.

Textual criticism: comparing manuscripts

This proliferation of hand-copied texts resulted in thousands of manuscripts, no two exactly alike. Textual criticism is the discipline that guides scholars in establishing what the authors of the Bible wrote. This is especially important for those who value the Bible as God’s Word. While most Christians may never study the original languages or engage in advanced textual criticism, the work of textual critics enables us to know with confidence what God has said through the human authors.

The word “criticism,” which today often connotes negativity, derives from an older usage, meaning “to analyze or investigate.” Textual criticism involves analyzing the manuscript evidence in order to determine the oldest form of the text. Such analysis also reveals historical evidence about the transmission of the text, scribal habits, theological biases, and more. Biblical scholars engage in this discipline, as do scholars in the broader field of literature. For example, the writings of most ancient authors, such as Plato or Shakespeare, may be published as a “critical edition,” in which scholars have sifted through manuscripts to identify errors that may have crept into the text and to determine the author’s original intention.

Because the original biblical manuscripts (called autographs) have not survived, we must depend on handwritten copies, none of which agree with each other 100 percent. The task of the textual critic is to resolve variations in the readings of these ancient manuscripts by identifying and “removing all changes brought about either by error or revision.”1

When successful, textual criticism results in the best representation of the Ausgangstext, or the ancient form of the text that is the ancestor of all extant copies, the beginning of the manuscript tradition.

Are our translations accurate?

Though there are thousands of variation units in the text of the Bible, the text is remarkably reliable. Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke says the most recent critical edition of the entire Old Testament (BHS) has no significant variation in 90 percent of the text. Of the thousands of instances of variation in the Bible, nearly all of them concern spelling, word order, synonyms, and other elements that do not affect meaning at all. Those variation units that affect the meaning of a biblical text are found in the footnotes of any good English Bible. Even these variants do not affect doctrine or theology.2

***

This excerpt is adapted from Textual Criticism of the Bible by Amy Anderson and Wendy Widder.

All Your Discount Options on Logos 8, Clearly Explained

It’s official: the Logos 8 launch discounts are ending February 7. Log in to see your savings. (And if you don’t know what all hullaballoo is about with Logos 8, watch this video.)

You could save up to 40% on Logos 8 if you buy before February 7, so here’s the lowdown on all your ways to save.

Sign in

To save yourself time, simply log in to see your savings. Then you can ignore this post.

Your discounts are automatically calculated based on what you already own, so sign in before you start shopping, and you’ll see your purchase price on every option.

But if you want the deets, here they are:

New to Logos: 10% off

If this is your first time buying a Logos base package, take 10% off whichever base package you choose. It’s that simple.

Explore base packages.

Upgrading to Logos 8: 25% off

For your very first Logos 8 Complete Upgrade, you get 25% off. So that applies if you’re upgrading from older versions of Logos to Logos 8 for the first time.

For subsequent additions (e.g., adding Logos 8 Gold Reformed on top of Logos 8 Gold Standard), take 10% off.

Sign in to see your recommended upgrade.

Academic discount: up to 40% off

Are you faculty, staff, or a student? You could save up to 40%.

There are a lot of ways your discounts could shake out, so the best way to see your discount is by logging in.

But here are a few routes your discount could take:

  • Faculty upgrade: 40% off all things Logos 8. (And if you’re also a Faithlife Connect Essentials subscriber, make that 45%)
  • Student/staff 
    • New Purchaser: 20% off
    • Subsequent Logos 8 purchases are 20% off
    • First-time upgrader: 25% off

Explore your academic discount. Note: these discounts will remain in effect indefinitely, even after the launch celebration, as they are part of the Logos Academic Discount program.

Faithlife Connect subscribers (pre-launch): up to 30% off

If you subscribed to Faithlife Connect Essentials or higher before 10/29, you could enjoy these discounts:

  • New Purchaser: 15% off Logos 8 Complete Upgrade
  • Upgrader:
    • First-time upgrade to Logos 8 Library or Complete Upgrade: 30% off
    • Any subsequent Logos 8 library purchases: 15% off
    • Stand-alone Feature Upgrade: 5% off

Sign in to see your prices on Logos 8.

Next step

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5 Highlights in the New Eerdmans Theology & Biblical Studies Collection

Hang around seminary libraries long enough and you’ll start to recognize certain publishers.

And you’ll start to reach for their books more and more.

Eerdmans is one of those. They were a consistent publisher in my bibliographies all throughout Bible school and seminary, so much that I had the publishing city memorized (Grand Rapids). [Read more…]

Why Did Jesus Choose to Live in Capernaum?

Quiet Capernaum (Kfar Nahum or “Nathan’s village”) wraps around the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It’s surrounded by lush, rolling hills that invite easy living—likely the reason a large number of Jews migrated there from Jerusalem after returning from Babylon.

[Read more…]

5 Recommended Resources from the Logos New Year Sale

January brings new opportunities to learn something new or refocus your Bible study.

To help you make the most of this new year, check out the Logos New Year sale and save 40% on dozens of products including these five: [Read more…]

Every Logos Sale Happening Now, in One Post

From free books to discounts on Logos 8, here’s everything that’s free and on sale this month on Logos.com, Faithlife Connect, and Faithlife Ebooks.

Free books

  • Awe, by Paul David Tripp

At the links above you’ll also find books for $2–$4, including two popular Old and New Testament exegesis books. [Read more…]

Enhance Your Class Documents with Personal Books

Guest writer Adam B. Shaeffer holds an MA in Spiritual Formation from Talbot School of Theology and a PhD in Theology from Durham University. He is already a big fan of Logos 8.

This article is a follow-up to my previous post on Personal Books. If you haven’t read it already, you may want to start there.

Imagine you are a teacher or the leader of a discipleship training program (this won’t take much imagination if you are one already) and you want to integrate technology more deeply into your in-person or online courses and curriculum.

In typical courses, professors hand out a printed syllabus on the first day of class. In some cases, they may post a digital copy to whatever digital learning resource their university uses, but this is typically done as a Word doc or pdf. [Read more…]

Jesus Is God: Jude and Peter Tell Me So


The epistles of Peter and Jude are often overlooked in preaching and Bible study. Not only are they nestled among the more popular letters of Paul and the book of Revelation, but portions of these epistles sound odd to our modern sensibilities. That wasn’t the case in the first century. We can better grasp the meaning of these letters if we understand what they have in common with influential ancient Jewish and Christian writings that were circulating at the time. One of those literary works is known to us today as 1 Enoch, a book Peter and Jude draw upon in their letters. [Read more…]

Worship Is Not Just Wonder; It Is Thankfulness

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger. [Read more…]