Power in the Pulpit Review

Book Review: 

In this Revised Edition, Vines and Shaddix re-brand for a new generation of preachers timeless preaching counsel from seasoned preachers. This resource is split up into three parts. Part 1 focuses on preparation for exposition, which builds a biblical case for expository preaching as well as a refreshing of the basic doctrines of the authority and inspiration of Scripture, the role of the Holy Spirit, and hermeneutics. A chapter in this part is also devoted to developing the preacher, especially his personal walk with the Lord and physical health (i.e. healthy eating, sleeping, exercise, etc.). Some might disagree with the authors' bit on the "anointing" in preaching, but it is worth examining.Part 2 focuses on the process of exposition. This is a bit more in-depth hermeneutics roughly following the simple process of observation, interpretation, and application. This book also advocates "big idea" preaching and puts much emphasis on organizing the sermon to have a main idea and outline of major points that are sticky yet faithful to the text. This section is very Baptist in its emphasis on alliteration, repetition, assonance, and the like, which is hardly surprising given the authors' background. Some may find their process of outlining and establishing a main idea a bit overkill or needlessly complicated.Part 3 focuses on how to present or deliver the sermon. Much attention is given to the preacher's style of communication. There is a wealth of practical information on how to communicate clearly and effectively. A whole chapter is also devoted to understanding the preacher's main instrument: his voice. It is incredibly detailed and may be a bit overbearing at times, but it is altogether unique in a preaching textbook. A chapter is also given to preaching with passion through the use of mental imagery and drama, especially useful for learning to preach to engage the emotions and not merely the intellect. This last part is a bit wordy and could have been condensed as it repeats many of the same themes but with a different emphasis. Also, the authors advocate preaching without notes of any kind, which may intimidate readers, especially new preachers. This is a point at which preference clearly eclipses conviction. This whole discussion can come across as if preaching with notes is "acceptable" though not desirable or most effective. The authors may not say this outright, but the tone of the section can easily communicate this (because words alone do not convey meaning but require tone and body language).In conclusion, this book puts much stock (maybe too much) in the "sticky" factor of the main idea and outline. It can come across to the reader as if this method is the only way to preach and that all other preaching is inferior (though this is likely not the intention of the authors). However, this is an incredibly practical guide from which any preacher is wise to glean, especially those who have little or no preaching experience. Though some may not agree with specific applications to preaching, its foundation is top-notch and encouraging. I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.