Book Review

FreshnessTitle: Preaching With Freshness
Author: Bruce Mawhinney
ISBN: 978-0-8254-3449-5
Copyright: 1997 pgs. 258
Published by Kregel Publications

It’s been a while since I’ve put together one of these so I thought I would give it another go.  Trying to find your writing voice, especially when covering different genres, can be challenging. Sometimes ya just have to throw yourself into a thing and work through its many challenges.

This particular book was one among many that came highly recommended in a question that I posed on Twitter. Preaching with Freshness had a lot of positive feedback. The reviews on  Amazon were almost all  five star and written with an encouraging note.

I’ve been saved since nineteen ninety four, called to preach in ninety five and now twenty five  years in ministry, thirteen of which included pastoring here at Bible Way.  I can identify with the main thrust of the book and understand the necessity for the preacher to keep himself fresh particularly with the art and craft of preaching. It is our main business

For me I  try to read at one book a year on sermon preparation and preaching and others on pastoring.  I lack in many areas where some preachers are highly gifted and because of these areas I feel I need to keep pressing on and not allow myself to become complacent. In other words read books that will help me become a better preacher and pastor.  This book, at least from a preaching perspective does just that.

The Features of the Book

It was an extremely easy read. No esoteric language just, simple and over the plate waist high. It’s put out there where you can reach it. You don’t  have to take a course in philosophy to get the gist of what the author was trying to communicate. The chapters were short and sweet as well

The author focused on the teaching/preaching ministry of Christ. Drawing from a wellspring of examples from our Lord’s preaching and teaching style.

The end of book has handy outlines which of course were based on the contents of the book itself. These can be photocopied and used as a handy reference when preparing messages. This I found to be exceptionally useful!

What Makes This Book Different (Fresh)

I’ve read many books over the years on preaching, sermon development, ministering and so forth and while great in their own right this book was refreshing in that it was more of a story, a running dialogue between student and mentor.

The overall theme was on sermon preparation/delivery. Staying fresh in the pulpit. Interwoven within the story is the drama/struggles that are often times associated with the pastorate. The struggles that are associated with more of  behind the scenes work with ministry are many and these burdens are  only known by the preachers that carry them.

What Was the Big Take Away?

There are many things to take away form this book, so just from my perspective I would say the chapter – Preacher’s One Calling – was important for me. The pastor’s true calling (Praying and Ministry of the word) should be to focus on specific areas of the pastoral ministry: preparing thoughtful, biblical and edifying sermons/lesson for the congregation.  Many are the distractions in ministry away from the pastor’s true ministry – THE WORD AND PRAYER!

I can relate to the main character, Paul in that, I can get caught up in doing a lot of church type things (landscaping, repairs in and out, etc.) and while these are not bad or wicked, they are not what a preacher’s MAIN duty should be. For me, trying to spend  quality time (without a book in my face, note book in hand etc.) with family, doing things to keep the house up while at the same time keeping the church property up means less time spent preparing and praying.

I’ve had “counsel” in the past just saying let it go, take care of everything else. I never bought into the idea that a preacher should just wing it when  it comes to preparation and preaching. Winging it as a “habit” both in sermon prep and study is shoddy work and the results will be disastrous for both preacher and congregation.

My goals going forward will be dedicate a block of time during the day, without interruption, for prep and prayer.  Some of the other things will be rearranged in my schedule and I will chip away at the chores, empower others to share in some of that work or seek other means for getting things done.

The suggestion on taking just one day out of the month  for praying was also a good idea.

Well, “That’s all folks”