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Reading for Preaching

Article 7 in a Series on Preaching
by David Cook

Interact Magazine 1992

Volume 3 Number 1

You can’t learn how to preach from a book but reading books on preaching can make you a better preacher.

The advice of W A Tozer was to never read a good book. He only had time to read the best books. It was his view that the good is the enemy of the best.

In my view there are three best books on preaching. The first is ‘Preaching and Preachers‘ by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. This is a classic in which he underlines the primacy of preaching, its pitfalls and romance and the need for the Word to be central. You will disagree with him at times, but that’s part of interaction with any good book.

Another is, ‘Between Two Worlds‘ or ‘I Believe in Preaching‘ by J R W Stott. It is a most comprehensive book which includes a brief history of preaching and focuses on the theological foundations of preaching as well as the practice of preparation.


‘Biblical Preaching‘ by Haddon Robinson is not so well known but is excellent. The outstanding chapter in this book is Chapter 3 – ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ We are hopeful that Haddon Robinson will be visiting our College in 1993 for Conference ministry. His book is well worth a read and I find that students appreciate his emphasis on getting to the kernel of the preaching portion.

There are many other good books on preaching:

  • ‘The Sermon Under Attack’ by Klaas Runia

  • ‘Preaching’ edited by Samuel Logan

  • ‘Walking with the Giants’ by Warren Wiersbe

  • ‘Preaching with Purpose’ by Joy Adams

  • ‘Preaching to the Heart’ by Joy Adams


As a practising preacher, I think it is a good discipline to read a book on preaching every year. After all, preaching is at the core of our ministry. At the moment I am enjoying reading ‘Mastering Contemporary Preaching‘ by Bill Hybels, Stuart Briscoe and Haddon Robinson. This book provides a good reminder to preach to people where they are at. Is has a helpful emphasis on application, which is often missing from expository preaching in Australia.


This morning I received a letter from a graduate from our College who is now ministering in South America. He writes, three years after he graduated, to say that he had come to realise afresh that the great need of the church is for lively, faithful expository preaching. He tells how large numbers in South America are being touched by the gospel but are needing to be discipled, and unfortunately, the preaching they receive is often rambling and superficial.


Paul’s call to Timothy is ‘Preach the Word’ in these last days must be taken up by us, for it is as the Word is preached that lives are transformed into the image of Jesus.

Rev David Cook, a Presbyterian Minister, served in several churches before becoming Principal of Sydney Missionary and Bible College.

© David Cook (1 July 1990)

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