Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
For those who may be seeking to re-examine their sermon prep
on May 18, 2004
LaRue has brought together a broad well-balanced spectrum of preaching experience. His introduction briefly explores the history of black preaching and then presents eleven characteristic similarities of method of the twelve preachers he invited into his project. Two of these characteristics that jumped off the pages of the contributor's essays were the importance of wrestling with the text and discipline and perspective. Wrestling with the text was invariably the first activity mentioned, most reading in the original language and several translations. LaRue mentions the "invitation to the listening congregation to enter into the world of the text being a defining feature of traditional black preaching." Discipline and perspective are key experiences shared by each contributor. The discipline of organizing their lives to give adequate and thoughtful time to preparation was emphasized. "All recognized they had to study in order to remain fresh, vibrant, interesting, creative and faithful." Each also pointed out the need for rest and avocation.
In each chapter, a pastor or preacher first reflects with essay or interview on their preaching life. Inevitably, for those who have pastoral duties it presents a helpful glimpse into the daily life of pastoring. Many of them had a day of the week devoted to sermon writing and several of them had agreements with their congregation that this time was sacred. Some of them found late night inspiration and some early morning. Most of them worked daily on some aspect of sermon preparation. Each prepared a manuscript but never used them in their delivery. There is a natural movement from text to presentation and no anxiety was expressed about forgetting something in the manuscript. Contributor Gardner C. Taylor reflects, "I would remember my starting point, where I was going, and where I would conclude. I followed those thoughts in my mind. Now I would lose a lot of material which I thought was wonderful but perhaps it wasn't. Maybe it needed to be lost. But I also picked up material I had no notion about when I was preparing the sermon. This new material would come in the actual preaching of the sermon."
The book is comprehensive and well-presented. All the contributors were helpful with example and reflection on the task at hand. It was with eager and excited anticipation that I picked up this book. Black preaching can be all of those things mentioned earlier: fresh, vibrant, interesting and creative. My one caution is that something was lost in the printed word, lost in translation. It might have been more helpful to actually have a transcript of an actual preached sermon rather than a manuscript. I do recommend the book, particularly for those who may be seeking to re-examine their sermon preparation method; it was excellent in this regard.