I’ve been preaching for 14 years. I’d like to still think of myself as a “young” preacher. Just don’t ask my 11-year-old daughter. When my copy of Letters to Young Preachers first arrived and she noticed it on my desk, she asked with a somewhat confused look on her face, “Are you still a young preacher?” Ouch.
At any rate, I want to highly recommend this new compilation co-edited by Warren Berkley and Mark Roberts. It’s exactly the kind of book I wish I could have read 14 years ago. I, my marriage and my preaching would have been the better for it. It encouraged me immensely and made me reevaluate my ministry on a number of different fronts.
Letters to Young Preachers begins with an introduction from Berkley and Roberts that gets your attention.
Preaching is hard. In our world today there is very little that is easy about it. The local preacher is called upon to wear a variety of different hats, master many skills (some of which are almost contradictory to each other), live nearly perfectly (without being prideful), never offend anyone (while preaching boldly), study a lot (without becoming academic or neglecting visiting), and have a great family life (while still spending a tremendous amount of time with the brethren). It is not easy. Preaching has never been easy but it is surely becoming more difficult than ever, with the demands of technology, the increasing wickedness of the world, and more and more churches expecting more and more of their preachers.
Want a little help? What price would you pay for the venerable and wise counsel of outstanding gospel preachers who have gone before you? If you could sit down for an hour with veteran men who would talk straightforwardly with you about the work of a preacher, the nuts-and-bolts of how to do it better, and give you solid, scriptural advice about your work, how much would you be willing to pay for that hour?
Of course it would seem impossible to get that kind of advice at any price. Who has time to fly all over the country and talk to older preachers? Would those older preachers have time for you if you knocked at their study door?
That is why we put together this book. (pg. 5-6)
The book contains very personal, candid “letters” from Sewell Hall, Dee Bowman, Frank Jamerson, Paul Earnhart, Melvin Curry, Brent Lewis, Harry Pickup, Jr. and Harold Turner. I genuinely came away feeling as if these letters were written to me. While I’m thankful for all the letters, I found Sewell Hall’s letter particularly powerful as he reminds the young preacher of things he must do, things he must not do, and the importance of striving for balance.
In between the letters, the book is supplemented with a wide variety of very helpful “How To” articles:
- How to Build Your Knowledge Base (Dan Petty)
- How to Build Trust with Members (Wilson Adams)
- How to Teach an Adult Bible Class (Warren E. Berkley)
- How to Use and Not Misuse Biblical Languages (Jeff Wilson)
- How to Plan Your Preaching (Mark Roberts)
- How to Deliver a Good Sermon (Don Truex)
- How to Use Technology Wisely (Max Dawson)
- How to Keep Yourself Pure (David Banning)
- How to Deal Wisely with Elders (Jon Quinn)
- How to Do Personal Evangelism (Mike Wilson)
- How and When to Move (Harold Hancock)
Bottom line: I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you’re just beginning the work of preaching or even entertaining the possibility of that future role of service, get this book. If you’ve been preaching for 14 years and your tween-age daughter doesn’t think you’re all that young anymore, get this book. If you know of a young man doing his best in the work of an evangelist, this would be an excellent gift.