Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Sermon Maker – Calvin Miller

© 2002, Zondervan, Grand Rapids

At a recent conference I had opportunity to rub elbows with one of my favorite Christian authors—Calvin Miller. A long time pastor, educator and writer, Miller embodies many of the characteristics I want when I grow up to be a real preacher. One of the best things that Miller does is communicate. And he has a desire to see all preachers do that better and better. And so he has created some short volumes to inspire the pastor to be the best pastor he can be. This is the first of those volumes.

One of the great things about reading Miller is that you never know what you’re going to get—much like Forest Gump’s proverbial box of chocolates. Within the 150 or so pages of this book you will encounter the fictional story of Sam, the beleaguered pastor who is rediscovering how his call to preach can take him beyond the typical mundanity (I know, I know: not a word) of three points and a poem cleverly alliterated for ease in memorization. Sam inspires the minister to re-visit his calling and so refresh his exposition.

The story of Sam is worth the price of admission in and of itself, especially as he interacts with Sermoniel the Angel of Homiletics. But Miller throws in commentary that allows the reader to dive deeper into the why of preaching via the story pattern. And the author puts a cherry on top of his sweet volume by including scholarly endnotes, if only to prove that he did his homework in the writing.

I must admit, I almost passed up this book because of the unorthodox packaging – story on the right-hand page, commentary on the left, with notes at the end of the book – but once I got into the reading, I found it wasn’t distracting at all. I also found that this design allowed to read just the story for continuity’s sake; just the commentary for clarification; or combine the reading to see how each relates to the other.

My recommendation for this book goes out to pastors who are caught in the grind of weekly cranking out lackluster sermons, to those who are looking for a new take on the old art of sermon-writing that will bring life back to their pulpit ministry, or to ministers who find themselves being weighed down by the monotony of taking on their own “Emma Johnsons” week after week. If you’d like to see your pastor revive the life in his sermons, you might consider gifting him this book.

5 out of 5 reading glasses.

Benjamin Potter, May 25, 2010

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