Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Preaching to Connect: A Review

Benjamin Kelley

A Review

When I picked up the book, I thought I was getting a tutorial on narrative preaching.  Rather, what I received was a well done argument for weaving narrative elements into all sermons - whatever style the preacher uses.  The argument was not lost on this preacher.

The author spends the first two-thirds of the book discussing each of what he identifies as the three major preaching styles - expositional, topical, and narrative.  For each type he gives examples, discusses the history of the style (both in scripture and in history), and he reviews the strengths and weaknesses of each style.  Finally, he gives the results of a study he completed for his doctoral studies that examined the effectiveness of each sermon type.  

At a point approximately ⅔ of the way through the book, Kelley writes:

... it is time for me to lay down my hand to hopefully persuade you to try and
integrate narrative elements into your proclamation of the gospel, regardless of whether you choose to cultivate an overall expository, narrative, or topical style of preaching. … my goal from this point forward is to demonstrate that each style of preaching can be both equally faithful to the biblical text, and effective at reaching post-modern audiences if consideration is given toward integrating narrative
elements, or what I will call story-ness, into the sermon.  [86]

Rather than trying to get a preacher, wherever he or she may be in their career, to change their style, Kelley suggests that there are times to include narrative elements in any sermon.  Including a narrative element in a sermon will bring the gospel home to the hearts of the hearer.  People need to both be told and be shown the truth.  This is the most best way to teach and to see people eventually transformed by the gospel.  Though Kelley does not mention it, this seems to echo the fact that people have different learning styles.      

I found the argument convincing - and will, today, begin to find ways to intentionally  incorporate narrative elements into my sermons.  Though I will still need to find a tutorial on crafting the narrative sermon, Benjamin Kelley’s Preaching To Connect has had and will have a significant impact on my own preaching.   I trust that this 200 page book will do the same for yours.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.  

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