Six Books Every Preacher Must Read In 2013

What if I told you I could make you an even better preacher?
Well, the truth is I can’t.
BUT, here are some resources that will get us well on the way.

If changing the game is what you are after, you have to start here. Stanley gives the preacher a simple (not easy) format to adapt your content to.
(Me- You – God – You – We)
Like some of his other “how to” books, Communicating for a Change is written in a narrative. It tells a story first and then gives you the meat and vegetables. If you are looking to engage your congregation or audience away from the pulpit and manuscript, I highly recommend this book. Some do not…appreciate Stanley’s approach to ministry at North Point. I find it challenging and engaging. But Be Warned!

This is a kind of companion to the Stanley book. They both stand alone, but say the same thing differently. Obviously, this book addresses the TED style communication specifically AND that’s why it’s so good for preachers. Ever notice that you watch the whole TED talk? Ever notice that you don’t really drift while they’re talking? Ever notice that after they win your 18 minutes, you generally want to give them 18 more? What if your sermons had that impact? They do already? Good! Then the TED folks ought to be calling any second. I found it very useful and managed to construct an outline as a how to. Nice thing to walk away with.

Preaching That Connects is hugely relevant little book. In it, author Mark Galli (managing editor of Christianity Today Magazine) makes the preacher look at the sermon like an editor would a print article. There are three elements that have to be there: 1) a title that says it all, 2) a byline that describes it all and 3) a body that unpacks the title. In order to flesh out the body, Galli presents a very generous model: heuristic. I got to learn a new word, cause I was like, “what is that?” (subtle heuristic joke). Like the Robinson text book, there are a lot of questions, but these somehow feel new and fresh and opened up the scriptures I was thinking of in new ways. Easy Read, Heavy On The How To’s! Pick it up.

So this is the new How To Read The Bible For All It’s Worth the way that black is the new black. There’s not a new rubric for exegeting Scripture in the book, but Strauss introduces four questions that unite the whole of Scripture thematically and yet highlight its literary distinctions. Got your attention? Good. If you are a new preacher looking for a few new questions to ask while you are doing your sermon prep. I wouldn’t call them exegetical shortcuts, but they are. I’ve not only enjoyed the book for myself, but look forward to teaching a class on the book. This is formation type content that congregations will benefit from. If you read the Fee book, this is the next phase in the evolution of how to read the Bible books. I’d recommend The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read The Bible, but I haven’t read it yet.

Of my recent homiletic/hermeneutic binge, this might be my favorite. The Preacher as Storyteller engages preaching, story and how to create story for preaching. If you have been wondering how to begin crafting illustrations that are original and captivating, look no further. This is a how to on that kind of thing. Austin Tucker, the author, has really created a helpful resource for preachers. There’s way more in this book than you could ever use. The moment I started to use some of what I learned from this book, I began to get a whole new kind of response to my sermons. This book actually turned me on to two pocket resources on famous Christians (one and two). Their stories have inspired my congregation. One member has even embarked on an Amy Carmichael reading binge as a result of using her as an illustration.

While we are on story, we ought to know how story work. But we are busy, right? So we don’t have the time to read the big McKee book or take the seminar. Well, this is the next best thing. I loved Save The Cat. I didn’t even know what Save The Cat meant when I bought the book (even though it was a pretty sure deal that I’d find out). This is a book specifically for screenwriters, but translate to all story tellers who are looking to understand and develop their sense of story: how it works, what it does and what it doesn’t do. I moved through the Kindle version, probably too quickly and will need to go back, however, it’s a very real, down to earth how to, full of tips and shortcuts (of course, there really isn’t such a thing as a shortcut, is there?). If you don’t have time to read this, then you at least need to watch Nancy Duarte’s TED talk on The Secret Structure Of Great Talks).

As a bonus, it’s not a book, but the resource that helped move my preaching from one level to the next more than any other was Shane Hipps’ talk on preaching at the Poets, Prophets and Preacher Conference. You can get the video, called “Peanuts, Beer and Letting Go” here. I promise, it’s worth every bit of it’s $9.99 price.

That’s all for now…enjoy.
Next up, the other one’s I haven’t read yet.

What am I reading right now?
What did I just finish?
What am I reading while I read those other two?
What am I re-reading?

BUT most importantly, what are you reading?

  • evansdavid43

    Hi Chris,  This is a great post!  Thanks for sharing such a great trove of wonderful resources.  Though I’m not a pastor per se, I am a writer and communicator, and  I have an abiding fascination with the power of story.  The book I just wrote about my new method of conflict resolution is filled with stories!  I explain the method through stories.

    Aristotle once said that man is a rational animal.  But we’re not.  We’re the animal that tells stories.  And it’s through stories that we try to struggle our way toward rationality.Thanks for sharing these resources.  I look forward to reading them all, especially the cat book!

  • prophetsandpopstars

    That Aristotle quote reminds me of another book 😉 
    The Story Telling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall.
    Really good read, not alot of *new*, but solid in the vein of your comment.