From and Before God by Sugel Michelen–Book Review

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book — after all, why does a layperson need to read a book that is subtitled  “Practical Introduction to Expository Preaching.”  Well, there are a couple of reasons.  The author, Sugel Michelen says,

”  I hope this guide may be useful for Sunday school teachers, small-group leaders, or anyone who has the responsibility of teaching the Scriptures in any context.”

I will never write a sermon, but I do teach, lead and sometimes write talks on Biblical topics.  I indeed found this book helpful in explaining how to research and present material.

In addition, From and Before God will give readers an appreciation for the hard work a pastor puts in to prepare and deliver a sermon.  For example, did you know that:

“It has been estimated that a preacher uses as much physical energy in half an hour of preaching as someone doing eight hours of manual labor.”?

When a pastor enters the pulpit he knows (or should) that he is preaching “from and before God.”  It’s a daunting responsibility.  Michelen makes the point that preaching is proclaiming God’s Word, not a man’s opinions.  Part of the work is to teach members of the congregation how to properly study and interpret the Bible.  The only one in the audience who must be pleased by this work is God Himself.

Finally, this book will help readers understand and be able to identify good preaching.  This could prove to be crucial information for anyone involved in a call committee.

The author explains the theology reasons for preaching;  he then defines the nature, form and content of an expository sermon and why he considers it the best method of preaching.  Finally he guides the reader step-by-step through the preparation of a sermon, along with the finished product.  He also discusses delivering the sermon.

The book is peppered with interesting quotes by other teachers, preachers and theologians, and there is a lengthy list of further reading at the back.

VERDICT:  Five stars.  I strongly recommend it!

For another book about preaching, go to this post:

Letters to My Students Vol. 1: On Preaching by Jason K. Allen–Book Review

If you would like to purchase the book follow this link:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/from-and-before-god-P005817830

 

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

 

Letters to My Students Vol. 1: On Preaching by Jason K. Allen–Book Review

In this book, Dr Jason Allen, president and the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Missouri and an associate professor of preaching and pastoral ministry, writes in the tradition of Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students. He has a passion to serve God through equipping pastors to fulfill their calling. This is the first volume in a series of three.

He begins with a section on preparing to be a preacher, including the essential indicators that a man has been called to this ministry. He follows with sensible instructions on how to prepare a sermon, and grow in maturity as a preacher. He has a strong bias in favor of expository sermons. If you’re not sure what an expository sermon is, here are some questions to help you identify one:

  • Is the text accurately interpreted with consideration given to both its immediate and broader biblical contexts?
  • Are the sermon’s main point and its subpoints derived from the text?
  • Does the sermon’s application come from the text, and is the text being brought to bear on the congregation?

As you can see, this method of preaching supports a high view of the Scriptures. To preach in an expository way is to preach the text.

Maybe you are asking yourself at this point, if I am not a pastor, why should I read this book? Well here’s my answer. It will make you a more discerning listener. Someday as the member of a congregation, you will need to call a new pastor. Part of that call process will probably involve listening to at least one sermon given by each person you are considering. Shouldn’t you, therefore, educate yourself on what to look for?

This book will also give you an idea of just how much prayer, study and work your pastor puts into every sermon he prepares. It’s an important and daunting task. Dr. Allen reminds preachers:

“…the sermon is to do more than entertain or simply fill the hour of worship. The sermon is to impart words of life—words of new life to the unbeliever and words of continual growth for the Christian. Remember as you preach, the stakes are so high because your audience, separated from Christ, is so low.”

I found this book easy to read and informative, and would recommend it to both pastors and lay people. The only issue I found as a Lutheran, was the chapter of the public invitation. Since Lutherans believe that we do not choose Christ, He chooses us, so Lutheran sermons do not include this.

VERDICT: 5 stars

If you are interested in purchasing this book, follow the link below:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/letters-to-my-students-P005811476