If a young preacher stepped into your office asking for your best books 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 only what you need to say, and say it in an interesting, personal way.”
To preach expositionally
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
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
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)
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
These are books I’ve not read but that come highly recommended:
- Power in the Pulpit (a thorough guide to the craft)
- Progress in the Pulpit (follow-up to Power)
- Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages (Haddon Robinson’s classic, which has been used for decades in seminary classrooms around the country)
- Preaching as Reminding (Christianity Today 2019 Book of the Year Award-winner, Church/Pastoral Leadership)
What are your favorites?
Please share your favorite book(s) on preaching 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.)
- J. I. Packer on Preaching and Listening to Sermons
- 8 Principles for Planning Your Preaching Calendar
- Are You Using the Same Preaching Illustrations Over and Over?