One Year to Better Preaching provides preachers with fifty-two hands-on exercises that sharpen their homiletical skills. The book is designed particularly for those who preach each week—and have been, perhaps, for some time—to help them get out of the rut of the routine and infuse their preaching with new sparks of creativity, fresh approaches to sermon preparation and design, and sharpened verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Novice preachers, also, will find the exercises useful in developing their preaching abilities. Each chapter includes instructions for an exercise, tools and suggestions needed for the exercise, comments from preachers who completed it, and recommended resources for further study. The exercises address eight categories of homiletics:
“One Year to Better Preaching will help preachers improve their preaching not just in one year but in every year, month, or week they seek to follow Daniel Overdorf’s insightful advice.” – Scott Gibson, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
• Prayer and Preaching
• Bible Interpretation
• Understanding Listeners
• Sermon Construction
• Illustrations and Applications
• Word Crafting
• The Preaching Event
• Sermon Evaluation
“Even preachers who make a conscientious effort to keep up with new developments in preaching are not always able to find the newest insights or do not have the time to keep up with approaches to preaching that promise renewal. Overdorf puts into one volume many of the most exciting themes to emerge in the preaching ministry in the last generation.” – Ronald Allen, Christian Theological Seminary
Readers can complete the exercises in the order presented, which address different categories week to week, or they can sharpen their skills in a particular category over a period of weeks by using the chart provided. They might also work through the exercises in collaboration with other preachers. One Year to Better Preaching will leave a preacher reinvigorated and better equipped to proclaim the Word of God skillfully, passionately, and effectively.
One Year to Better Preaching: 52 Exercises to Hone Your Skills by Daniel Overdorf from Kregel Ministry (September, 2013).
The book layout is pretty straight forward. Yes, this is a book’s insides that you can judge by the cover. Just as the title reads, this is 52 weeks worth of exercises that are designed to hone your preaching skills.
The 52 weeks are not laid out in an organized fashion, most likely so to keep you from getting settled into some sort of lazy pattern. The eight categories that were mentioned above are sporadic throughout the text and Overdorf encourages you to take a look at your own practice and, if need be, jump to the topics that speak loudest to you.
But back to the subject at hand – the book is laid out pretty straightforward with 52 exercises. Each exercise has a brief explanation and very specific steps to put that exercise into practice. One of the best pieces to each exercise is that Overdorf leaves the reader with a list of resources to dig even more into that particular piece of preaching. Take a look at an example entry for the exercise entitled Speaking to Three Listening Styles:
How often do you reflect on that thing you do week after week, you know, the delivery of your message? In a way that was both humbling and encouraging, I recently had the opportunity to receive some pretty critical feedback on my weekly preaching duties. We tend to think that we’re doing a pretty good job. Like most areas in our lives that we fall short or miss the mark, we have a habit of justifying our actions and sheepishly saying that we’re doing just fine. The honest-to-goodness truth though is that we all need more work. That is where a book like this enters the scene; After we toss out our pride and admit that we need some improvement in that routine act that we call preaching, then we can pick up a book like this.
“Daniel Overdorf is creative, thorough, and practical—a great combination! These insightful exercises, combined with the books, articles, and websites he mentions, will hugely impact anyone’s preaching. Fascinating reading!” -Donald Sunukjian, Talbot School of Theology
If you are new to preaching, like myself, I’d encourage you to develop healthy habits right now. If you have been practicing for some time, decades even, I would encourage you to reevaluate your methods and purpose. Overdorf’s One Year to Better Preaching is a systematic and disciplined approach to the art of preaching and is a great place to nestle into if you are in need of developing your preaching skills. Learn more at Kregel or Amazon.com.
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*This text was provided free from Kregel Publications with our promise to post an unbiased review.