As someone who is not a pastor, I typically do not read books devoted to the subject of homiletics or preaching. With that said, a book on the subject matter of persuasive preaching seemed like something of interest, if anything to see what I might glean as useful information regarding the presentation of material in general. Furthermore, the art of persuasion is something all believers should hone in on, especially in regards to how we share the message of the gospel with others. R. Larry Overstreet, in his book Persuasive Preaching: A Biblical and Practical Guide to the Effective Use of Persuasion, addresses this very issue in a scholarly textbook oriented yet highly useful approach.
This is not your ordinary run of the mill book that lists ten ways to convince someone of the truth of the gospel or something you can stick in your back pocket as some sort of Cliff Notes on effective preaching. Conversely, Overstreet provides the reader with a comprehensive look at what persuasive preaching is all about, rooting his discussion in biblical truth while providing practical yet scholarly based examples.
I was highly impressed at the academic and scholarly nature of this book. For instance, Overstreet devotes a section of his book to the methodology of structuring a persuasive message. He addresses issues such as motivated sequence, presenting a problem and the solution, noting cause and effect, and refutation. As one who often enters the fray of debates on social media, I found the chapter on the process of refutation to be quite engaging. Overstreet rightly notes “Although the refutation approach is widely used in our everyday lives, we may not pause to consider carefully what it is.” This method of conversation is rooted in the need to identify the incorrect presuppositions and statements of an opposing position, responding to them with “evidence and argumentation.” This means the response should not be flippant or pithy commentary with no biblical support to back up our response. This is a truly important tactic to utilize, especially when it comes to preaching, especially in a day and age when so many hurl insults at Scripture, questioning what God has stated as truth in His Word. It is important for the preacher to understand refutation and to include this method in their preaching repertoire.
Perhaps the most important chapter in this excellent book is on the Holy Spirit and preaching. One can create the most masterful of sermons with perfect presentation skills, sentence structure, and all the latest methods of argumentation. Without the Holy Spirit leading the charge, the message will fall flat on its proverbial face. Overstreet saliently comments, “The ministry of the Holy Spirit is essential since only He can turn our “speaking” into true preaching which will have a persuasive spiritual impact.” After all, it is the Holy Spirit that does the wooing of the lost and writes the word of God on the hearts of the believer. Overstreet correctly reminds the reader that “In order for people to understand the person, character, essence, and attributes of God, and His plan for our salvation, God must reveal it.” This means that while proper planning, the utilization of effective techniques and sound biblical preaching are important, but ultimately it is the Holy Spirit that makes for persuasive preaching.
I highly recommend Persuasive Preaching for R. Larry Overstreet. It is academically minded yet accessible and replete with sound teaching on how to deliver a powerful sermon. Furthermore, in the midst of all the academic discussion and scholarly notations, Overstreet constantly roots his approach in the foundation of the work of the Holy Spirit. This is a must read for preachers and I also recommend it for the parishioner as well as the techniques and guidance provided by Overstreet are useful for any believer engaged in discussions about matters of biblical importance.
This book is available for purchase from Weaver Book Company by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Weaver Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”