Preaching is at the very heart of the New Testament church. Yet many preachers find themselves struggling to prepare, lack the exegetical and theological tools to research adequately, and struggle to deliver sermons that connect with people.
Greg R. Scharf identifies some of these homiletical struggles in his new book, Let the Earth Hear His Voice. His primary argument is that pastors have weaknesses which need to be identified in order to improve in the pulpit. He compares these struggles to bottlenecks that restrict the flow of God’s Word to his people. These bottlenecks need to be unclogged which will lead to a more effective preaching ministry.
Eight foundational principles are set forth in Scharf’s work. These principles provide pastors with the necessary “muscle” which will strengthen their pulpit ministries. The principles include:
- Trust God
- Speak as those assigned, equipped, and empowered to do so.
- Speak from the Bible in ways that reflect the Bible’s composition as a literary collection.
- Listen to God before they attempt to speak for God, discerning what he is saying.
- Understand those to whom God has called them to speak.
- Respect and reflect the clarity and orderliness of Scripture while discerning the way people hear.
- Respect and reflect the ways that Scripture communicates in stories, propositions, and images.
- Take seriously their role as messengers who also embody the message they proclaim.
Each principle is subsequently viewed in a negative way. That is to say, each principle is viewed as one of the eight bottlenecks. The author describes the bottlenecks (unbelief, unqualified or disqualified preacher, faulty text selection, inadequate understanding of the text, inadequate contextualization, faulty organization, inadequate balance of proposition and illustration, and flawed delivery).
Scharf carefully explains each bottleneck in the remaining chapters. He presents reasons for guarding against each respective bottleneck and strategies for overcoming them. The conclusion of each chapter contains practical exercises which are designed to help and encourage struggling shepherds.
Let the Earth Hear His Voice is not a typical preaching book. Frankly, it stands alone in a growing list of excellent books. Scharf’s work is a welcome addition and a complement to books like The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper, Preaching & Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, A Biblical Theology of Preaching by Jason Meyer, The Kind of Preaching God Blesses by Steven J. Lawson, and He is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World by J. Albert Mohler. Pastors would do well to absorb the excellent material in this book. May God use this book to his glory as pastors learn and discern their weakness and faithfully wield the mighty sword for the edification of God’s people!
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.