Last fall I had the opportunity to attend a Simeon Trust Workshop on Biblical Exposition in Youngstown, Ohio. At the workshop we were all given a copy of a book by H.B. Charles Jr., simply called On Preaching. I heard H.B. speak at the 2017 TGC national conference, and he recently preached at T4G, so I am certain his name will be familiar to many of you. H.B. Charles is an outstanding expositor of God’s word, and this book is a distillation of his pulpit wisdom and skill. It is interesting to note that On Preaching began as a series of blog posts, but I am delighted that H.B. had the vision to turn them into a book. In light of that, you won’t be surprised to hear that this is not an in-depth treatment of preaching, but it is a highly practical sketch.
On Preaching is broken down into 3 parts, and 30 short and easy to read chapters. Part 1 deals with Preparation for Preaching and looks at such topics as training, finding time to study, using a sermon calendar, and the all-important aspect of prayer. Part 2 concerns the actual Practice of Preaching. Here, H.B. dives into some of the nuts and bolts aspects of preaching including such topics as outlines, titles, introductions, transitions, illustrations, conclusions, and preaching without notes. Finally, part 3 looks at Points of Wisdom for Preaching. Such things as being yourself, developing your style, being consistent, pulpit plagiarism, and being a guest preacher are covered in this section. As you read through this book, it will become clear that H.B. has thought a lot about preaching and particularly, what makes for good preaching vs. mediocre or even bad preaching.
Perhaps the best two chapters in the whole book are the first and the last. In chapter 1, aptly titled Preach the Word, the author powerfully reminds us that we are to preach God’s word and not our own. Much of what accounts for modern preaching is really not preaching at all. Why? Because the preacher has substituted his own word for God’s word. H.B. writes, “Paul’s charge to Timothy is the Lord’s charge to every preacher: Preach the Word! This divine command obligates us to preach; moreover, it specifies what we are to preach: the Word. The importance of preaching rests in its content, not in its function. Our preaching is not the reason the Word works. The Word is the reason our preaching works.” Amen! The book concludes with a chapter titled The Bottom Line in Christian Ministry. The author reminds preachers that we have been charged, by God, with this most important of all tasks. Therefore, “The goal of Christian ministry is that you may be approved by God.” In a similar cord, he writes, “Make it your ultimate goal to hear the Master say, ‘Well done.’”
There are no shortage of preaching books today, but for both the seasoned expositor and the beginner, On Preaching is chalked full of wisdom and advice that will aid in your development as a preacher. In both the macro and the micro areas of preaching, I am certain this book will help you think through your craft in order to better communicate the Word of God to your listeners. Reading this book only fueled my desire to become a better preacher and I think it will for you too. In short, I would highly commend On Preaching to you.