Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Preaching Resources "Top Ten"

Was recently asked to make a list of top ten resources for preachers. Here's what I came up with:

Top Ten List #1 (I make no claims that this is objective, or comprehensive. These are just books that have been very influential in my own preaching and study in homiletics)

1. Theology is for Proclamation, Gerhard Forde
2. Wondrous Depth: Preaching the Old Testament, Ellen Davis
3. Unleashing the Word: Preaching With Relevance, Purpose, and Passion, Adam Hamilton
4. Conversations with Barth on Preaching, Will Willimon
5. We Preach Not Ourselves: Paul on Proclamation, Michael Knowles
6. Confessing Jesus Christ: Preaching in a Postmodern World, David Lose
7. Countdown to Sunday: A Daily Guide for Those Who Dare to Preach, Chris Erdman
8. A History of Preaching by O. C. Edwards
9. Preaching as Testimony, Anna Florence
10. Finally Comes the Poet, Walter Brueggemann

If I could expand it to a top fifteen, I'd add:

11. Worldly Preaching, Bonhoeffer
12. Preaching and Theology, James Kay
13. A Cross-Shattered Church, Stanley Hauerwas
14. As One Without Authority, Fred Craddock
15. Everything else Gerhard Forde ever published, like the books in the LQ series, On Being a Theologian of the Cross, Where God Meets Man, etc.

Also, if people ask me about preaching, I often refer to memoirs written by preachers that I find helpful. So although I didn't list these in the top ten, I thought I'd provide a separate list of great memoirs by preachers:

1. The Preaching Life, Barbara Brown Taylor
2. Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery, Richard Lischer
3. Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx, Heidi Neumark
4. Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic, Reinhold Niebuhr
5. A Broad Place: An Autobiography, Jurgen Moltmann
6. And not exactly a memoir, but amazing anyway, Gilead, Marilynne Robinson

Finally, I tended towards contemporary authors in the top ten, but if I were to make a short list of influential historic works, it would be:

1. Lectures to My Students, Charles Spurgeon
2. On Christian Teaching, Augustine
3. Divine Rhetoric: The Sermon on the Mount As Message and As Model in Augustine, Chrysostom, and Luther by Jaroslav Pelikan
4. Word of God and Word of Man, Karl Barth


  1. You've gone from 5.4 to 4.69 million in about twenty years; who cares what books you're reading!
    With a median age of over 63, within twenty years you'll have about as much influence on US society as the Shakers.

  2. Hi Brian. Thank you for your comment. In one way, yours is a valid point. Preaching should bear fruit, and one way of measuring whether preaching bears fruit as the Word of God is whether it brings new people to the faith, and creates a congregation that shares the gospel with others. Inasmuch as my denomination has been shrinking rather than growing, we have something to learn, and we pray for revitalization by the Spirit.

    However, I should mention that many of the books I list here are not written by Lutherans. Some of them are written by pastors who have very fast growing congregations (like Adam Hamilton), or at least grew the congregations they served substantially (Barbara Brown Taylor and Chris Erdman).

    Also, a number of the authors here would question whether growth in # of worshippers is the first order of business for preaching. Barth especially would question that. The question for preaching for Barth is preaching the Word of God, and fidelity to preaching the Word of God. That's my criterion for my own preaching, and I hope these books that I'm reading help guide me in proclaiming Christ and him crucified more clearly, and in faithfulness to the tradition that has been given to me to preach.

    I hope that helps as a response.