First, I want to thank Moody Publishers for the chance to read this book before its release date.
As a young man aspiring to become a full-time pastor of a local church someday, I have read many books on preaching. I have taken classes in Bible College on preaching, I have been assigned many a book on the art of preaching, and I have added countless resources on preaching to my bookshelf over the past few years. Progress in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix will be another resource that will be added to the shelf and used regularly.
The combined experience of both of these pastors, Vines and Shaddix, is impressive. The wisdom they have for a young aspiring preacher like myself is even more impressive. In their book, Progress in the Pulpit, Vines and Shaddix provide wisdom for men either entering the ministry, like me, or wisdom to those already in the ministry, whether old or young!
This book is broken up into three parts. Part One focuses on defining the sermon. Essentially, if you are to preach the Word faithfully, it would help you tremendously to know what a sermon should look like! The two authors argue for expository preaching to be the method used by the preacher. In their own words, “In short, expository preaching simply allows the Bible to say what it was intended to say and do what it was intended to do.” There is no better way to preach the Word then to allow the Word to speak for itself! The rest of Part One is all about shepherding the people of God in a God-honoring way that produces growth.
Part Two centers on the task of developing the sermon. I found this section of chapters to be some of the most practical for producing a sermon, which is difficult work. The key theme in developing a sermon is to keep Christ at the center. Jim Shaddix asks the question, “Where does my text stand in relation to Christ?” Answering this question is crucial to a healthy sermon. Since preaching requires the preacher to use words, words are to be simple and understandable. If the words are hard terms define the terms so that even a small child could understand the message! Incorporating the gospel in a message is hard, but the fruit is beautiful.
The last section, Part Three, will aid the preaching in his delivery. This section covers various things such as using a pulpit or not using a pulpit, giving an invitation/altar call to the nonbeliever to trust in Christ, evaluating your sermon with other people in your church, and teaching others about preaching. All of these things and more will aid in the delivery of a preacher’s sermon. I found this section extremely valuable since it addresses some key areas where I could see myself struggle with in the future. Some of these things I struggle with now, but I see the possibility of solving some of these issues with this resourceful book!
Overall, I was pleased to read all of this book, cover to cover. It helped reinforce several concepts of preaching I have learned in the past and it has even taught me valuable concepts I had not learned yet. I would recommend this book to men who are either aspiring to become a pastor, are already a seasoned pastor, or are on the edge of retiring from the pastorate. Progress in the Pulpit has the potential to be an extremely useful tool for you men!