Book Review: The Elements of Preaching by Warren W. Wiersbe and David Wiersbe

Very Helpful Primer on the Basics of Preaching

 This helpful handbook by father and son preaching veterans – Warren and David Wiersbe is divided into two sections. There are twenty-six preaching principles and fourteen preaching prohibitions that are developed. Each chapter is only one to two pages in length. They really pack this book in with great quotes, wisdom, and the type of advice that you can only get from preachers that have put a lot of mileage in the pulpit.

In the preaching principles section the Wiersbe’s remind us  “Methods are many, principles are few. Methods always change, Principles never do.” Here are just ten of the twenty-six topics they develop:

Preaching is the communicating of God’s truth by God’s servant to meet the needs of people.

The Preacher is a part of the message.

Preaching is an act of worship.

A sermon must have both intent and content if it is to be effective.

The sermon should be based on the essentials of the text and not the accidentals of the translation you are using.

Build your outline on the unique features of the text.

Keep your preaching within the bounds of what the text says and what the people can receive.

Preach to express, not to impress.

Sermons preached as part of a series must be independent and yet related.

Speak the truth in love.

Never be satisfied with your preaching.

At the end of the book they include a very helpful checklist for “Taking Inventory of the Message:”

  1. Is the message solidly based on Scripture?
  2. Does it exalt the Person and work of Jesus Christ?
  3. Will it meet the needs of the people?
  4. Is the theme a timeless truth worth talking about?
  5. Is the message organized so that I can preach it clearly and the people understand it easily? Is there a concise and clear statement of purpose? Is there a clear plan of development? Is there practical application that makes the message personal?
  6. Are all Scripture references and historical facts accurate?
  7. Is the message real to me personally so that I may make it real to others?
  8. Does the message fit into the total “preaching plan” for this church and into the context of the church’s ministry at this time?
  9. Does the message fit into the ministry of the Church at large and Christ’s concern to save a lost world?
  10. Is the message worth preaching again?

I have used this little book (approximately 100 pages) as a refresher, idea generator, and kick-starter for years. It’s well worth having for beginning, intermediate and experienced preachers of the Word. Perhaps the most important asset of this book is the encouragement it will give you from two men who have been faithfully delivering God-centered sermons in the trenches for years.

*Warren W. Wiersbe is the Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, Warren Wiersbe is the author of more than 100 books. Billy Graham calls him “one of the greatest Bible expositors of our generation.” Interestingly, Warren’s earliest works had nothing to do with scriptural interpretation. His interest was in magic, and his first published title was Action with Cards (1944).

“It was sort of imbecilic for a fifteen-year-old amateur magician to have the audacity to write a book and send it to one of the nation’s leading magic houses,” Warren says. But having a total of three books published by the L.L. Ireland Magic Company—before the age of 20—gave him a surge of confidence. In later years, he applied his confidence and writing talent to the Youth for Christ (YFC) ministry.

Warren wrote many articles and guidebooks for YFC over a three-year period, but not all his manuscripts were seen by the public eye. One effort in particular, The Life I Now Live, based on Galations 2:20, was never published. The reason, Warren explains with his characteristic humor, is simple: it was “a terrible book…Whenever I want to aggravate my wife, all I have to say is, ‘I think I’ll get out that Galations 2:20 manuscript and work on it.’” Fortunately, Warren’s good manuscripts far outnumbered the “terrible” ones, and he was eventually hired by Moody Press to write three books.

The much-sought-after author then moved on to writing books for Calvary Baptist Church. It was during his ten years at Calvary that Expository Outlines on the New Testament and Expository Outlines on the Old Testament took shape. These two works later became the foundation of Warren’s widely popular Bible studies known as the Be series, featuring such titles as Be Loyal (a study on Matthew) and Be Delivered (a study on Exodus). Several of these books have been translated into Spanish.

His next avenue of ministry was Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church, where he served for seven years. He wrote nearly 20 books at Moody before moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he and his wife, Betty, now live. Prior to relocating, he had been the senior pastor of Moody Church, a teacher at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a producer of the Back to the Bible radio program.

During all these years of ministry, Warren held many more posts and took part in other projects too numerous to mention. His accomplishments are extensive, and his catalog of biblical works is indeed impressive and far-reaching (many of his books have been translated into other languages). But Warren has no intention of slowing down any time soon, as he readily explains: “I don’t like it when people ask me how I’m enjoying my ‘retirement,’ because I’m still a very busy person who is not yet living on Social Security or a pension. Since my leaving Back to the Bible, at least a dozen books have been published, and the Lord willing, more are on the way.”

Wiersbe’s recent books include Your Next MiracleThe 20 Essential Qualities of a Child of GodThe Bumps are What You Climb OnClassic Sermons on the Fruit of the SpiritClassic Sermons on Jesus the ShepherdKey Words of the Christian LifeLonely PeopleA Gallery of GraceReal Peace: Freedom and Conscience in the Christian Life, and On Being a Leader for God.

Author: lifecoach4God

I am the Lead Pastor of Valley Baptist Church (Bay Area), born and raised in Huntington Beach, Ca., and currently living in Novato, California. I am married to my best friend of 29 years - Dana - and have five adult children; and seven grand children. I have been a Teaching Pastor for over thirty years. I was privileged to study at Multnomah University (B.S. - 1988); Talbot School of Theology (M.Div. - 1991); Westminster Theological Seminary & Northwest Graduate School (D. Min. - 2003). I founded Vertical Living Ministries in 2008 with the goal of encouraging Christian Disciples and Leaders to be more intentionally Christ-Centered in how they live by bringing glory to God in nine key areas of life: (1) Intimacy with God, (2) marriage, (3) family, (4) friendship, (5) vocationally/ministry , (6) emotional and physical health, (7) stewardship of resources, (8) discipleship, and (9) mentoring.

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