Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kregel Blog Tour: Larry Moyer's books on Evangelistic Sermons

TITLE: Show Me How to Illustrate/Preach Evangelistic Sermons
AUTHOR: R. Larry Moyer
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2012.

ISBN: 9780825438806 (254 pages)
ISBN: 9780825433566 (368 pages)
There are two books that I will be reviewing together in one post. Written by the same author, it is about the practical implications of communicating the gospel over the pulpit. It is about designing, demonstrating, and showing readers, pastors, teachers, and communicators on the hows, the whys, and the whats of the message.

Book #1: How To Preach Evangelistic Sermons

The author starts off with a candid appraisal of his own humble beginnings. He shares about his early years of being corrected for not speaking clearly enough. With help from his seminary professor and a speech therapist, Moyer eventually hones his speaking skills and is able to let his passion drives his speaking. The book is arranged in two parts. In the first pare, he looks at the opportunity to learn to improve one's skills no matter how difficult it is. He clarifies what expository preaching is. He probes into the reasons why expository and evangelistic sermons are few and hard to find. He tackles the challenges of dealing with such topics. He warns preachers against 4 erroneous assumptions and provides 6 different ways to communicate an evangelistic message. While it is normal to expect preachers to prepare messages targeted at believers, Moyer makes a point to remind preachers how to design a message for unbelievers even in a non-evangelistic setting. This part essentially helps readers make the most of all the possible opportunities to bring about an evangelistic message, that evangelism is both to believers and non-believers; both good times and bad; both service and sermon; both expository and evangelistic, etc.

Part Two goes into the nitty-gritty of designing, preparing, and preaching an evangelistic sermon. Using a generous helping of stories, examples, and illustrations, Moyer shows us how to communicate seemingly simple terms such as 'sin' or 'sinner.' He makes a case for ensuring our message be simple enough and understandable not only by laypersons, but for non-believers. That means clarity and frequent explanation of terms. He points out the need to let grace and truth flow together as one body. Content-wise, it is critical for sermons to have good illustrations. Context-wise, it is important to understand the audience and the setting. In terms of method, repetition, humour, length of message are all crucial elements of an evangelistic sermon. Most of all, the message needs to aim at the hearts of men for the Spirit of God to touch.

The Appendices complement the book with an example sermon on John 3:16, Luke 19, and ways in which we can creatively ask questions of the audience.

Book #2: How to Illustrate Evangelistic Sermons

Moyer provides this companion volume to the first book that can be a useful reference for preachers, pastors, and teachers.  In a nutshell, illustrations need to be relevant, pertinent, sufficient, engaging, believable, understandable, and appropriate.  He then provides a library of illustrations that cover three major aspects of an evangelistic sermons: Sin, Substitution, and Saving Faith.

This book shows us the hows, the whats and the whys on using illustrations in sermons. It gives readers a one-volume collection of illustrations, checklist, and topics. What is most useful for me is the way in which the author guides readers on the use of each illustration, with "Possible Entrance" and "Possible Exit" like parenthesis of each illustration. That to me is in itself worth the price of the book.

My General Comments (Both books)

These two books form an important resource for all preachers and teachers. In fact, sermons ought to be evangelistic as the Word of God needs to be constantly preached to both believers and unbelievers. The latter needs to hear the good news. The former needs to be reminded of the gospel. I find the book useful for three reasons. Firstly, it shows us what expository preaching really is and that evangelistic sermons ought to be the staple of every Church. As a student of Dr Haddon Robinson, I find myself nodding my head at every page I turn. Moyer has applied Haddon's teachings in many ways, faithfully and diligently. Secondly, it reminds all preachers that preaching is hard work and not to be taken lightly. This hard work includes the need to continue to improve our speaking and communicating skills, the need to use fresh examples, and the need to continue learning and growing as students of the Word. Thirdly, this book is a resource that preachers can readily use when they preach. Although the title of the book refers to 'evangelistic sermons,' the illustrations are so good that they can be readily applied in many different kinds of messages. In fact, this book may very well encourage preachers to learn and to collect more illustrations from other sources, especially from a more personalized perspective. What I particularly like in this book is the way the author shows us 'possible entrance' and the 'possible exit' of each illustration. That easily is worth the price of the book.

That said, I have a few observations which I hope to see greater improvement. Firstly, it will have been better for the two books to be combined into one volume. For those of us with library of books, it is so easy to pick up one book and then misplace the other. Moreover, if not for the blog tour requirement, I will not have noticed that these two books are supposed to be purchased in pairs! Perhaps, the cover of the book can indicate something to show readers that there is a companion volume to the book.  Secondly, a preface or an introduction will be good for the prospective reader to get a map of where the author is going. In such an introduction, the author can also share with readers what the book is meant or not meant to achieve. Perhaps, share the philosophy behind the book clearly in the introduction. Thirdly, have a conclusion and a list of resources for the interested reader to look at.

As a preacher and pastor, I feel that these two books form an important resource for the sharing of the Word of God over the pulpit. Congratulations and thanks to Larry Moyer for sharing this wonderful resource and for serving the preaching community with books like these.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided to me free by Kregel Publications without any obligation for a positive review. All comments furnished above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Part of the reason that these two books were not made into one volume is because they are part of a larger series called "Show Me How." The first was "Show Me How to Answer Tough Questions." The second "Show Me How to Share the Gospel." Then the two that you reviewed, and then more coming out later.

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