The book under consideration is called “From Pew to Pulpit: a Beginner’s Guide to Preaching” by Clifton Floyd Guthrie. This work serves to be a practical guide for the preachers that helps to choose the appropriate topic. It also learns how to be a good listener and an excellent narrator; addresses the listening to the first impression of the topic. It also implies how to involve a person into the process of listening and how to master the art of narration. The book is destined for the preachers and pastors giving sermons in local churches.
The book is especially useful for those who experience fear of conducting the first sermon. Sometimes the pulpit ministry is not able to cultivate full-fledged preachers by submitting the theory only. In the book, the author discloses the importance of choosing the topic and makes a considerable attention to the plot of the sermon. According to the book, choosing the topic is not an easy matter since it should conform to worshippers’ outlook on the one hand, and to the principles of the Scripture on the other hand. Hence, the topic should face the problems of the current society so that the prior impression attracts the church attendants. The author gives a thorough description of the obligatory issues the topic should contain including the bright examples and persuasive arguments. In addition, the text and the topic is chosen for a sermon should comprise flashbacks from the past that have a bright reflection in the future. The ability to choose the right topic is one of the major tasks for preachers since without it a sermon will not be consistent and systematic and will not have a desirable effect.
Guthrie teaches how to choose the genre of the text and how to write it down correctly. The writer also focuses on the structure of the text emphasizing that it should be written “for ear”. Hence, he provides some useful examples and tips to follow. He induces the preachers to make the text more alive. In other words, the text should be a kind of an invitation for the questions and further discussions.
The author also calls to stick strictly to the Bible and know thoroughly the contents of the Scripture since the book itself is full of Bible references. Hence, he advises to read Bible in front of the church visitors every time the preacher begins the sermon. The concept is rather logical since there may be visitors who attend the church for the first time. The worshippers must be convinced that pastors preach God’s Word.
Further, the book gives a detailed instruction and rules for conducting a sermon. The work helps to organize a sermon beginning from the “words at the door” and the effects of the sermon. In accordance with the book, the preacher must pay a considerable attention to the inner massage of the prepared text that should conform to the ideas of the whole divine service. After figuring out the main goals of it, the message should be properly crafted. It should be mentioned that the writer refers to preparing the message as to the art. The writer advises first to right the idea and the goal setting. The main metaphor should be also included in the message at hand. In general, the book gives sensible suggestions concerning starting and stopping stages of the divine service, provides the preachers with hints, and answers on the basic questions.
The content of the message may be lost if the delivery is not effective. The book teaches how to be a passionate narrator and what catching phrases should be used to attract the worshippers’ attention. Thus, while preaching the sermon the church attendants should plunge into the divine atmosphere and, therefore, the preacher’s speech should include judgment, aspiration, sympathy, and faith. Hence, Guthrie refers to the “reluctant preaches” (p.2) being the experience of the past whose behavior did not conform to the reality. In other words, the writer emphasizes that though the reluctance to preach shows the confession, preaching is still necessary and important. To overcome reluctance, the authors state that everyone “has demons and times when we unworthy to preach. If you are afraid, at least you are not alone.” (p. 3).
Another peculiar feature of the book is that it has both conventional and current approaches to conducting divine service. Guthrie also learns how to set up the centre of interaction of the preacher’s text and the Scripture. Moreover, the book provides the beginners with website references where one can learn about the way more experienced preachers conduct their first sermon. Consequently, the book is destined for a new generation of preachers and those who have just penetrated the pulpit. The book can also refresh the ideas of more experienced preachers who will have the opportunity to figure out the current issues of sermon conduct and to deviate from the conventional outlook on preaching.
In a whole, the book is logically built and has a rather understandable language and genre. The structure of the work is rather consistent and up to the point. It starts with evaluation of the necessity to review the traditional way of conducting sermons which are proved by historical and biblical references. Therefore, the first part of the book gives the reason why introduction of the new generation of lay preachers is crucial.
Another great advantage of the book is the introduction of concrete instruction that a real beginner should follow including how to compile an effective speech in order to attract the visitors and how to single out the main points of the speech out the whole text. In addition, the work instructs how to use the Biblical references in a proper way. In addition, the book provides the preachers with other important details concerning the divine service. Thus, Guthrie describes the preachers should behave and the way they should interact with the worshippers.
Finally, the book is not just a brief gathering of lecture on how to preach. It is rather down-to-earth. Nevertheless, it contains rather advanced and profound ideas. It should be admitted that the work under consideration contains rather provocative ideas where author criticizes the preachers who are afraid of conducting the sermon for the first time. Therefore, Guthrie’s work is exactly for the new lay preachers and pastors to operate the modern world requirements and the way of divine service.
The great difference between Guthrie’s book and other works is, as noted above, the usage of unconventional approach in conducting sermons. The writer gives an exhaustive description of the preparation all details of a sermon. In similar works, the writers give the theory without getting down to nut-and-bolts issues. In other words, they can view preaching from one angle only. For example, Brown highlights the topic from the historic point of view. Therefore, it is more likely to a theoretical guide rather a practical application. The book only discloses the role and the essence of sermon among people still supporting traditional way of holding the God’s service. (p. 1) However, like Guthrie, he tries to reveal the core points of sermon and to explain the secrets of a successful divine service.
The Bible tells us about the most famous preachers who lead the peoples and gained trust among the others. The Scripture tells us about the numerous preachers in the history who mastered the art of preaching. One of them is Moses, God’s servant, who set free his people from Egyptian pharaohs. Moses managed to preach on behalf of God. (Exodus 4: 1-8, RSV). Moreover, the Bible advocates the necessity of preaching stating that it gives us the right to speak on Lord’s behalf. (Exodus 4: 11-15 RVS). Hence, according to Bible, power of speech is given to people to glorify Lord since Lord is the only One who entitles us with this gift. The Holy Bible constitutes that preachers are the messengers of God and should be fearful to conduct sermons. Despite the fact that Guthrie’s ideas are rather outright and are close to reality, they do not deviate from the Bible’s core concepts. The book is just a modern adaptation to the current social needs and a reliable tool for preachers to eliminate a feeling of fear.
Brown, Charles Reynolds The Art of Preaching. Charlestown: BiblioBazaar LLC 2009.
Guthrie, Clifton From Pew to Entry: a Beginner’s Guide to Preaching US: Abingdon Press, 2006.