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The Beauty of the Word
The Challenge and Wonder of Preaching
by James C. Howell
Publisher:Westminster John Knox Press from Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
A friend of mine once said ‘read a book written by a preacher on the art of preaching and you will get a sense of the sort of preacher they will be.’ If this is true I would welcome a visit to Myers Park United Methodist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina to sit under the ministry of James C. Howell.
Howell’s The Beauty of the Word is a sensitive reflection on the process of sermon preparation and preaching. It is the sort of book I wish I had been introduced to as young preacher as it not only provides insight into the journey from text to sermon but also the passage of the message from preacher to the congregation.
As he seeks to unpack the process of preparing a sermon Howell encourages the preacher to avoid the trivial and trite in favour of a prayerful, well researched and pastorally sensitive gospel message. In advocating this Howell helps the preacher to explore the joys and sadness that often cries out to be expressed through preaching. As he describes the journey from text to sermon Howell also reflects on the feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness that accompanies any serious exponent of God’s word.
With additional chapters on sermon delivery and dealing with the aftermath, this relatively short work (175 pages including endnotes) provides, for the inexperienced preacher, a rounded introduction to sermon craft. Furthermore, for the seasoned speaker The Beauty of the Word provides a welcome refresher course in sermon preparation and delivery.
James C. Howell’s The Beauty of the Word is the sort of book that reminds me why, as a preacher and pastor, each year I should read at least one book on preaching. As such I find no difficulty in recommending it and adding it to my bookshelf.
Reviewer: Steve Langford (28/08/12)