- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Crossway (July 31, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781433559358
- ISBN-13: 978-1433559358
- ASIN: 1433559358
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Preacher's Catechism Hardcover – July 31, 2018
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“Our age is fixated on techniques. Yet the beautifully crafted sermon that exalts the preacher over Christ is actually the ugliest sermon of all. Adapting the wisdom of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, The Preacher’s Catechism draws us back to what really matters. But make no mistake: the result is profoundly practical. You can read it as a primer or dip in for fresh insight or inspiration. All the way, you’ll find plenty to inform, challenge, and encourage your preaching.”
―Tim Chester, Pastor, Grace Church Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire; Faculty Member, Crosslands Training
“The Preacher’s Catechism is a book from the heart that candidly reflects Allen’s own experience of the ups and downs of the preaching ministry. He writes in an engaging and fresh style that provokes thought. Here we find that preachers are ‘heavy lifters’ who need the ‘Monday gospel.’ This book will repay slow and reflective reading by preachers. It will foster the joyful obedience of a preacher, but also expose the activity of his flesh in all its ugliness. Take a little dose at a time and ponder it. Find in it pointers to the remedy for both pride and discouragement. I pray that the Lord will use it to bring down the proud in us all, and then to lift up the humble.”
―Garry J. Williams, Director, The Pastor’s Academy, London Seminary; author, His Love Endures Forever and Silent Witnesses
“This book is entirely different from any other. It is directed at the preacher himself rather than the art and craft of preaching, and is all the more useful for it. For too long we have focused on the method at the expense of the man. Allen’s creative and content-rich volume goes a long way toward redressing the balance while marrying a familiar format with fresh insight. Every preacher of the Word of God will benefit from spending time in this volume and letting its lessons seep into his bloodstream.”
―Adrian Reynolds, Training Director, The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches
“These warmhearted and practical devotions could also be titled The Preacher’s Comfort. Allen gets inside the pastor’s head and points him to Jesus Christ in a way that will soothe and strengthen many a weary preacher’s soul.”
―Joel R. Beeke, President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary; Pastor, Heritage Reformed Congregation, Grand Rapids, Michigan
“We live in a Corinthian society, where preaching is regarded as foolishness by both the religious and the nonreligious. We also live in a quick-fix society, where even preaching is considered something that can easily be done. Lewis Allen’s ingenious book is an antidote to both of those perspectives―insightful, realistic, biblical, clear, and contemporary. I will buy it and use it with preachers I train!”
―David Robertson, Minister, St. Peter’s Free Church, Dundee, Scotland; Editor, The Record; Associate Director, Solas Centre for Public Christianity
“Preaching is soul business, and the souls of godly preachers are under continual assault from the world, the flesh, and the Devil. In my last ten years of ministry, I have not read any resource that has so convicted and challenged my soul as has Lewis Allen’s The Preacher’s Catechism. His creative and detailed application of the theological riches of the Westminster Shorter Catechism to every area of a preacher’s soul and practice will continue to feed and protect my ministry for years to come. I will return to it again and again.”
―Andy Davis, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Durham, North Carolina
“The weakness of much contemporary preaching stems not primarily from a lack of exegetical technique or presentational skill but from the inadequate spiritual preparation and flawed motives of the preacher. Lewis Allen’s new book will challenge preachers to ensure that they proclaim the Word of God with a prayerful desire to see God faithfully disclosed and glorified for who he is, out of a love for his people. Forty-three short chapters apply the core teaching of the Westminster Shorter Catechism specifically to preachers with clarity and insight. Any preacher who reads this book will be humbled, stimulated, challenged, and equipped for the glorious task of preaching, and encouraged to have a deep trust in the power of the Word and the sufficiency of God in this labor. The format is designed for preachers to read alone, perhaps as a daily meditation, but would also be ideal for use by preaching groups, ministers fraternal, or staff teams that want to improve the quality of their preaching.”
―John Stevens, National Director, The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches
“Preachers often work hard to catechize others, but rarely think about being catechized themselves. This is an excellent resource to help us do just that, and I commend it warmly. It’s just the kind of book I will use with my preaching team.”
―Robin Weekes, Minister, Emmanuel Church, Wimbledon
About the Author
Lewis Allen (ThM, Westminster Theological Seminary) serves as senior pastor of Hope Church in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England, which he helped plant after twelve years of pastoring a church in West London.
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Lewis Allen offers this reminder of the greater importance of character to craft in his Introduction:
And yet, having all of these tools [to improve preaching skills] will not ensure that you are a preacher after God’s own heart, someone who is really serving those who listen to you. Skills have an essential place, but more essential to our calling are a heart and mind captivated by God and his gospel.
In other words, the heart of preachers is the heart of preaching.
Allen bases his counsel in The Preacher’s Catechism on three convictions:
1. The church needs preachers who last and thrive.
2. Preachers must understand how preaching works, and how their own souls work.
3. The Westminster Shorter Catechism is an outstanding resource for the heart needs of every preacher.
The book organizes its material around 43 questions modeled on that catechism.
The first and second convictions should be uncontroversial points among evangelical Christians. I found the third conviction a bit of a stretch, at first glance anyway. I am Pentecostal — Arminian and egalitarian to boot — so what could I learn from a catechism produced by high Calvinist English Presbyterians? (Allen himself is a Calvinist Baptist.)
A lot, it turns out. Allen’s use of the catechism sheds light on heart issues that all Christian ministers need to address.
For example, consider his repurposing of the catechism’s teaching on the Ten Commandments. The catechism asks, “What does the _____ commandment teach us?” (with first, second, third, etc. filling in the blank). Here are Allen’s answers, which follow the order of the commandments (Exodus 20:2–17):
1. You shall preach as a love expression to the Lord your God.
2. You shall not make a preaching idol of your image or of anyone else’s.
3. You shall honor the name of God as you preach.
4. You shall rest from finding your justification in your preaching, and rest content and safe in the finished work of the living Word of God, Jesus Christ.
5. You shall honor those who preached the Word of God to you, and obey what they taught you.
6. You shall not use your ministry to harm in any way.
7. You shall not be unfaithful to your ministry by failing to love those you preach to.
8. You shall not withhold your heart and soul from the hard work of preaching.
9. You shall not say anything untrue in your preaching.
10. You shall not set your heart on another’s ministry and gifts.
There is far more to The Preacher’s Catechism than these reworked commandments, which appear in Part 3, titled “Loving the Word,” of a four-part book. Part 1 is titled “The Glory of God and the Greatness of Preaching,” Part 2 “Jesus for Preachers,” and Part 3 “Preaching with Conviction.”
In fact, there is more to this book on preaching than preaching. Part 4 includes helpful chapters on baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Preaching may be a pastor’s most important public duty, but it is not the only one. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are New Testament ordinances, God-given means of grace that too many evangelical pastors — including Pentecostals — neglect.
Allen closes the book with this statement: “Our preaching will never satisfy us. It isn’t meant to. Let’s give our hearts to God.” In many ways, that’s the core message of this excellent little book.
Some books make for a good read, once. The Preacher’s Catechism is a volume I think I’ll take up and read again. And then again.
First, The Preacher’s Catechism is a book targeted to preachers. While some may consider this narrow target audience as ill-conceived, this strategy works well and helps accomplish the ultimate ends of the author.
Three convictions govern this book, which are set forth in the opening pages:
The church needs preachers who last and thrive.
Preachers must understand how preaching works, and how their souls work.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism is an outstanding resource for the heart needs of every preacher.
With the governing convictions in place, Allen Lewis determines to utilize the pattern of the Westminster Shorter Catechism by targeting specific questions and answers to preachers. The book is arranged in four parts:
Part 1: The Glory of God and the Greatness of Preaching
Part 2: Jesus for Preachers
Part 3: Loving the Word
Part 4: Preaching with Conviction
Summarizing the essence of The Preacher’s Catechism is an impossible task. But at its very heart is a series of gospel-centered challenges and soul-stirring encouragements. This work is like a theological battering ram that is designed to crush pride, self-sufficiency, false motives and deeds of the flesh. But make no mistake. The author does not intend to merely convict preachers; his ultimate aim is to encourage them. Once the feeble scaffolding of the flesh is sufficiently toppled, the author winsomely directs the attention of preachers to the cross. “Listeners need to know that the preacher is contented in his God and rejoicing in his Savior,” writes Allen. He continues, “When our lives as preachers are filled with a sense of amazement about the grace that is ours in Christ, others start asking questions about that grace and seeking it for themselves.”
To call The Preacher’s Catechism a success would be a profound understatement. For this book captures what is truly important about pastoral ministry. It is a vivid reminder to keep the main thing the main thing. It serves preachers by admonishing them and encouraging them. But in the final analysis, it leads preachers back to the cross. It graciously beckons them to not only preach Christ crucified but to cherish the old rugged cross and lay claim to the saving benefits that Christ wrought for his elect.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.
(As a side note: if you enjoy Michael Reeves' refreshing writing style, you'll want to pick this book up too. It has the same kind of quality and sweetness.)