|"Power in the Pulpit" is Jim Shaddix's reorganized, updated, and expanded compilation of two earlier works by Jerry Vines. As such, the book is co-authored by an academician and a pastor. Its purpose is to give practical help to the local church pastor who has the responsibility of preaching weekly. It is designed to champion an expository approach to preaching while being sensitive to the nuances of weekly pastoral preaching. The goal of the authors is to close the gap between classroom theory and what actually works in a pastor's weekly preparation.|
The book is divided into the three parts, those being preparation, process, and presentation of exposition. "Power in the Pulpit" is a comprehensive, thorough, and exhaustive study of the art and science of expository preaching. Theological and philosophical foundations are examined, detailed descriptions of the process are explored, and practical suggestions for implementation are encouraged. The book is written in language a novice can understand with principles that the seasoned preaching veteran will find helpful. At the time of this writing, if I could recommend only one volume on expository preaching, this would be it.
|Vines, Jerry, and Jim Shaddix. Power in the Pulpit. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999. |
Dr. Jerry Vines is the pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida. He has served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has been a pastor for more than forty years. He and his wife, Janet, have four children. He has authored many books, some of which include Spirit Works, Spirit Life, The Believers Guide to Hebrews, and The Believers Guide to First Corinthians.
Dr. Jim Shaddix serves as Professor of Preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is the Dean of Chapel. While working on his Masters of Divinity Degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he started and pastored Arlington Park Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. Dr. Shaddix and his wife live in New Orleans with their three children.
Power in the Pulpit is the combination of two books on preaching, A Practical Guide to Sermon Preparation and A Guide to Effective Sermon Delivery, written by Jerry Vines in 1985 and 1986. These two books were updated, revised, expanded and put into one volume by Jim Shaddix resulting in a volume that is suitable for the classroom setting and also helpful to the pastor who prepares and delivers sermons each week. Power in the Pulpit seeks to take advantage of years of practical experience and classroom training by closing the gap between classroom theory and what actually works in a pastor's weekly preparation. The book's purpose is to give practical help specifically to the man who is faced with the responsibility of preaching on a week by week basis (Vines and Shaddix 1999, 13).
Power in the Pulpit is divided into three major divisions: The Preparation for Exposition, The Process of Exposition, and The Presentation of Exposition. Each division is a vital component of exposition, which if neglected results in messages that are less than appropriate sacrifices to God in worship. Each major division is divided into subsections which guide the preacher through each important step in preparing messages that reflect biblical truth. Thus, the process culminates in sermons which declare truth with passion and conviction.
Part one, The Preparation for Exposition, includes discussions on Defining the Task, Laying the Foundation, and Developing the Preacher. These elements are not hoops which must be jumped through to develop a sermon. Rather, they help form convictions in the preacher's heart about their great calling and the importance of developing the preacher as well as the sermon. Defining the Task includes a practical theology of preaching, a philosophy of preaching, and a rational for expository preaching. These three elements lay the foundation of presuppositions on which the book is written and establish a high standard on which preachers are to live out their calling. Developing the Preacher makes it clear that the preacher plays an integral role in the preaching event. Therefore, several healthy disciplines are discussed that optimize the preacher's performance.
Part two, The Process of Exposition, takes the reader from choosing a text through building the sermon. Analyzing the Text is the beginning point. During this process, the preacher uncovers or "exposes" the true meaning of the text within its own context and culture. The next step, Unifying the Theme, leads the preacher through developing the foundational sermon elements: the central idea of the text, the proposition, the purpose, and the title. The following three steps, Designing the Structure, Maturing the Ideas, and Building the Sermon, take the preacher through the process of giving form to a message by developing an outline, putting substance to the outline through the functional elements (explanation, argumentation, application, and illustration), and allowing the sermon to take shape through the formal elements of the sermon (introduction, exposition, summation, and invitation).
Part three, The Presentation of the Exposition, includes discussions on expressing thoughts through preaching style, use of voice, last minute preparations before delivering the sermon, and sermon delivery.
Personal Evaluation of the Book's Contribution to Expository Preaching Theory and Methodology
With more than fifty years of pulpit experience and academic credibility, the authors have a firm grasp on both theoretical homiletics and practical preaching experience. Although not an exhaustive work, it covers all basic elements essential to the preaching event offered in a user friendly fashion. The book is unique in the fact that it includes thorough treatments of both sermon preparation and sermon delivery. The chapter on developing the preacher is often overlooked in preaching books and does much to reinforce the responsibility of taking care of oneself both spiritually and physically and should serve to further the notion that preaching cannot be separated from the preacher. "Effective delivery and reception of the Word are tied to the related concepts of character and integrity"(Vines and Shaddix 1999, 71). In the outset, the authors put forth a solid rationale for expository preaching as the best option for consistently feeding people the Word of God. "Both you and your people can be confident that you are not speaking your own thoughts or opinions. You are speaking, ýýThus saith the Lord.' That confidence gives immense force to your ministry"(Vines and Shaddix 1999, 34). The multiple forms presented for constructing expository sermons make it clear that exposition is not a form, but a process used to "expose" biblical truth and to relay that truth to everyday life. This point needs to become clearer in an age of needs-based preachers who react against exposition as boring and irrelevant. This book combines the basic elements of classic expository preaching and some contemporary theory to ensure that the communication of God's truth will be as powerful in the twenty-first century as it was in the first century.