Book Review: Christ-Centered Preaching

29 03 2010

Chapell, Bryan. Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon. 2nd Ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

In his book, Christ-Centered Preaching, preacher and Seminary professor Bryan Chapell outlines a model for preaching expository sermons. Chapell’s work is biblically based as he both encourages and challenges preachers to preach as God intended “to save those who believe” (cf. 1 Cor. 1:21).  His book is an excellent resource for both young preachers (me!) and those desiring to be refreshed in their insight on what it takes to develop and preach effective, life changing messages from the Word of God.

The best thing about Chapell’s work, and the reason it should be read by those beginning a lifelong ministry of preaching and those desiring to get back to a biblical model of preaching, is that it is unapologetically centered on the Word of God.  He gives practical tips on how to construct introductions, conclusions, and transistions, but everything is grounded in the Word. Basically, the book gives great explanation on why to use the Word and how to use the Word in preaching. 

Another thing that Chapell does well is to almost provide a “theology” of illustrations.  Explanation of the text is a biblical thing for preachers, but Chapell argues that in addition to that, so is illustration. Illustrations are more than just humor or time fillers but actually “expand and deepen [listener’s] understanding of a text” (p. 178). Chapell makes the case that illustrations are a vital tool for exposition, and then as he does with introductions and conclusions, provides practical advice on how to find and use good illustrations in sermons.  Preachers desiring to preach as God would have them preach must remember that “sermons too full of illustrations choke credibility; sermons too lacking in illustrations strangle goodwill” (p. 201). Along with illustrations, Chapell even provides many of his own preparation suggestions for outlining messages that will be a good resource to any preacher.

The only caution I would give about the book is to make sure that you do not think of sermon preparation as only “scientific”.  This is not Chapell’s intent, but if you were to just skim the book you may think it’s all about our work and not the Holy Spirit’s. Chapell is just emphasizing our need to be good stewards of sermon preparation.  He even states, “sermons succeed when the Holy Spirit works beyond human craft to perform his purposes” (p. 265).

So, all that to say, if you have the time, read this book! And, if you are new to preaching, make time and read this book! God bless…