I have a ton of books on my shelf to read. Believe it or not I spent a few hours on vacation making up a list of the 200 unread books on my shelf and listed them. That is the list I am going to go through over the next year or so as I am determined to read them all. This book was on the list. I got it in 2009 and read a little bit of it. I decided to read it fully and I am glad I did.
While the style of the book (each chapter is a fictional ‘letter’ – similar to CS Lewis’ book “Letters To Malcolm”, although not quite as good as Lewis) is a little distracting, what Macmillian says is good.
He is angry at the horrendous state of preaching. Too many preachers are inadequate and too many church members are listening to and tolerating abysmal sermons. This book looks at why this is so and what to do about it.
This is not so much about training as gifting. You can train to some extent, on the external and minor things but the key to preaching, the communication ability, the passion the delivery is about gifting and calling. And to that I say Amen and Amen!! Preachers need to get back to the Bible – reading, devouring, loving scripture – immersing themselves into it and into God. This author was asked to create a Preaching Curriculum to Chinese pastors. They had no money for three years in seminary nor the books to read on an in depth homiletical course. These preachers pay $300 for a year, go away to some mountain cabin and eat rice. Here is the curriculum which Macmillian says he would, if he could, get western seminarians to follow – and the one he sent to the Chinese Church. I wonder whether those who have been to seminary would relish this course?
66 – Each student, by the end of the year, has to be ready to preach (without notes) a one-hour sermon on each of the 66 books of the Bible. This sermon is to include an outline of the content of the book, and contemporary application to the individual, the church and the nation of China. At the end of the year, 3 books would be selected at random, then the student has five seconds to launch into their message.
33 – Each student had to prepare 33 one-hour sermons on the life and work of Christ, each based on a single verse (only 10 allowed from outside the gospels). His whole ministry must be covered, from pre-existence to second coming (although I’d suggest His ministry extends beyond the second coming!) Interestingly, students are allowed one page of notes per sermon in this category!
1 – Each student has to prepare an “end-of time” sermon – any length (since time constraints are irrelevant in eternity). The goal is to help the student consider the whole salvation story from God’s point of view.