Back to Baby Steps

 A review of “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon Robinson.

Every sports fan admires the greats. Basketball fans discuss the skill of Lebron James while Football fans admire Tom Brady’s Superbowl rings. Each sport has its high achievers. What is important to note about each of them, however, is their dedication to and mastery of the fundamentals. While the greats in every sport (and every profession for that matter) often break the rules, they feel free to do so only because they have already mastered the rules and are familiar with the circumstances under which the rules can acceptably and effectively be broken. In his book “Biblical Preaching”, Haddon Robinson conducts a review (or an introduction for the beginning speaker) of the basics of the art and science of preaching. This is a book on fundamentals that will be helpful and relevant to everyone who reads.

Robin, a preacher and seminary professor who served with distinction as the professor of preaching at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, runs the risk of turning some readers off with the detail and simplicity of his approach. More advanced preachers and speakers will likely be tempted to skip past the beginning chapters as the book outlines the anatomy of an idea and the way in which that idea should be effectively developed and expressed. “What are you talking about?” and “What are you saying about it?” seem on the surface like overly simplistic questions for seasoned speakers to ask. Especially when they are often pressed for time. After all, wouldn’t any speaker naturally know what he or she is talking about and what they are saying about it? Isn’t that why they are speaking? It is precisely because of the confusion that often accompanies most presentations why these fundamental “baby steps” are so important. Weekend after weekend congregations witness preachers who are trying to bend and break the basic rules of effective communication without even remembering (must less mastering) the basics! Day after day presentations around the world effectively leave their audiences in confusion as listeners scratch their heads and wonder “What was she trying to say?”. “Biblical Preaching” not only serves as an excellent reminder of the path from idea to sermon but it also provides a solid foundation upon which any speaker or preacher can build, regardless of the level of expertise.

Robinson’s book is 207 pages long and is more textbook than light reading. The author is thorough and the chapters are detailed, with examples and exercises throughout designed to sharpen the reader’s skills. This classic text isn’t the book you pick up and read in one sitting. Rather, this is more of a reference manual that should remain in the preacher’s personal library and serve as a constant guide during weekly sermon preparation. I’ve personally read this book on several occasions and the information has been beneficial every time. For the preacher who is looking for a timeless classic that is sure to help with the development of his or her craft, I’d like to encourage you to go back to baby steps and read (or re-read) “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon Robinson. After all, we can never get enough of the basics.

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