Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition

"Preaching is an art in which a studied, professional sinner tells the less studied sinners how they ought to believe, behave, and serve."

So says Calvin Miller in his book, Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition. That statement is a fine example, all by itself, of why I love Calvin Miller and his writing, and why I fully expected to love this book.

In my view, he is among the most creative and insightful preachers of the last fifty years. He "gets it." For example, he says, early in the book, "Preaching remains too captive to 1950 to transform the third millennium." Oh, amen, brother. He says, "Could it be that during the past five decades the world was learning to listen in a new way, while preachers continued talking in the old way?" Preach! He makes the case early on (in "Part I: Analysis: The Exegesis of All Things") for old-but-new ways of preaching--which the book's subtitle refers to as "narrative exposition." He suggests that preachers today must exegete more than the text; they must exegete the preacher, the audience, and more.

In the second and the third sections, he covers "Writing the Sermon" and "Preaching the Sermon," which are excellent. Unfortunately, much of these sections could have been written by many preachers and teachers-of-preaching. I was hoping for more Calvin-Miller-style creativity and insight into preaching that is not captive to 1950.

In an appendix, he gives a fascinating thrill ride through the preaching approaches of today's masters of the craft--people like Haddon W. Robinson, Bryan Chapell, Barbara Brown Taylor, and others.

I hope and pray that everyone who hopes to preach effectively in this third millennium will read, study, and heed Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition.

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