Preaching Today's 2016 Book Awards
Our picks for the books and commentaries that are helpful to pastors.
Editor's Note: After a three-year hiatus, we've brought back Preaching Today's Book Awards! These are books or commentaries that have come out in 2015, that we believe should be on your shelf for reading in 2016 (if you haven't read them already). We surveyed many of our contributors and you can see their favorites below, but we, as the editors of Preaching Today, have also included a few books that have come across our desks this year that we really liked.
Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism (Viking, 2015), by Tim Keller
Robert Smith Jr. - This book is not a textbook dealing with the how (methodology) of preaching; rather it is a book on the what of preaching. (It deals with the rationale of preaching without specifically addressing the methodology of preaching.) It is an extract and/or a distillation of what Tim Keller does in New York City Sunday after Sunday.
Scott Wenig - See LJ's review
Jeffrey Arthurs - Tim Keller is one of the most widely read practical theologians in the church today. This book, more of a manifesto than a manual, is brilliant in it synthesis and the result is a fresh and stirring approach to preaching.
Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez - More than ever, in the midst of unprecedented darkness, the preaching of the gospel serves as the primary declaratory medium by which the light of truth shines. For that matter, the hope of the world lies in Christ-centered Bible-based effective preaching. The gospel preacher may be, according to some, a dying breed, but in reality it behooves us to be equipped for this may very well be our finest hour.
Daniel Fusco - Keller is a genius in communicating the gospel in a post-Christian context. His thoughts are both deeply rooted in historical preaching and conversant with the contemporary culture. His goal is to preach Christ and the Scriptures in a way that culture can understand. I highly recommend this book.
Mark Meynell - A masterly overview and such a gift to the church that will undoubtedly be a standard for many years to come.
Ryan Welsh - It's no surprise that I enjoyed yet another Tim Keller book. Keller addresses topics that every faithful preacher must deal with. From the hermeneutical task of a Christ-Centered biblical interpretation to the homiletical task of effective communication to our current culture. This book covers the spectrum of practicality for Bible preachers. I have made this book required reading in my preaching courses.
A Vision for Preaching: Understanding the Heart of Pastoral Ministry (Baker Academic, 2015), by Abraham Kuruvilla
Dr. Kuruvilla's "vision for preaching" is what kept me reading this book. I am going to give you his vision and challenge you to read it. Dr. Kuruvilla's vision is, "Biblical preaching, by a leader of the church, in a gathering of Christians for worship is the communication of the thrust of a pericope of Scripture discerned by theological exegesis, and of its application to that specific body of believers, that they may be conformed to the image of Christ, for the glory of God—all in the power of the Spirit." He ends each chapter with a "Reflection" which helps the reader better understand what he was explaining and become a better biblical pastor.
Preaching the Whole Counsel of God: Design and Deliver Gospel-Centered Sermons (Zondervan, 2015), by Julius J. Kim
Julius' Kim has delivered a masterpiece of a book. It focuses on keeping Christ the hero of every message, but goes way beyond that. He covers the whole gamut of sermon prep—selecting the text, connecting the big story to your text, and designing your sermon. His last section on delivering the sermon is where this book shines. He relies on recent findings in neuroscience to help pastors better connect with their hearers. I would encourage all pastors to read this book, but it is even practical for those who listen to sermons they will be able to understand the sermon prep process.
The Pastor's Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry (Crossway, 2015), by R. Kent Hughes and Douglas Sean O'Donnell
This handbook is of great value to all pastors, but especially those new to ministry (or right out of seminary). While not specifically focused on preaching, it does have quite a few amazing sections devoted to this. It is an all-encompassing handbook that covers almost every area of pastoral ministry and responsibilities. This book will be on my bookshelf always within close reach.
Other Contributor Nominations
Recapturing the Voice of God: Shaping Sermons Like Scripture (B&H Academic, 2015), by Steven W. Smith
Jim Shaddix - Incredibly helpful in navigating the muddy waters of interpreting and preaching the various literary genres.
Sweeter Than Honey: Preaching the Old Testament (Langham Lit, 2015), by Christopher J.H. Wright
Mark Meynell - An excellent one-volume guide to preaching the different genres of the Old Testament. It takes a great OT scholar to be able to explain simply (but never simplistically) and richly how to tackle even some of the trickier corners of the Bible.
Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation: Commentary on Hebrews (Holman Reference, 2015), by Thomas Schreiner
We, at Preaching Today, are really excited about this new commentary series from B&H! This is one we would highly recommend keeping your eye out as each new volume become available. Here are some of the highlights that we really appreciate in this series. The series as a whole seeks to put each book's themes in the context of the entire canon, hence the title Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation. This alone would make it the top of our list, but the content is academic and weighty, while being understandable and readable. We have finally found a commentary that is easy to read and understand! We really like the outline of each section as well—Context, Exegesis, and Bridge. Very straightforward way to treat each section, in this case the book of Hebrews. The "Bridge" section is extremely valuable to pastors who are preaching through entire books of the Bible, as it helps set up what has just been exegeted and what will be discussed in the next sermon.
Acts: An Exegetical Commentary (Baker Academic, 2012-2015), by Craig Keener
Craig Keener's magnum opus, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, is finally complete! This is the most in-depth study of Acts we have ever seen, and while it comes at a steep price tag it is well-worth every dollar paid. Some may be overwhelmed at the depth of exposition and interaction Dr. Keener provides in these volumes, but these volumes provide a great synthetization of all current scholarship on the book of Acts. We would recommend this as your first-stop commentary, when you preach from the book of Acts.
The Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary Series (B&H, 2014-2015)
Jim Shaddix - Very helpful insights into biblical text from guys who practice biblical exposition; great models of pastoral exposition without too much of the academic baggage.
Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).