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Preaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition (Bold Assurance Series, 2) Hardcover – June 1, 2003
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This is practical advice to help pastors communicated God's word in a way that honors the text and engages the congregation.
Shunning the tendency of preachers to simply fill their listeners' heads with information, the authors champion for proclamation of the Word that grips people's souls and motivates them to conform to the will of God. "Our approach to the Bible and to preaching," they say, "has application as its ultimate goal." Consequently, sermons must be custom-built to change lives.
Such an approach places dual emphasis on exposition and communication in order to conform listeners to the will of God. The authors refuse to allow preachers to choose between being either biblical or effective. They refreshingly call upon them to be both. Correcting the myth that expository preaching is one among many sermon forms, this book describes it as "the end result of explaining and applying the meaning of the text." In other words, it is the kind of preaching that shows people the meaning of a biblical text and leads them to apply it to their lives.
Lamenting the rarity of true expositors in contemporary pulpits, York and Decker begin by calling preachers back to preparing sermons that are saturated with the Word of God so that they capitalize on its inherent power to change lives. To assist with such a task, the book provides extensive help for outlining and diagramming passages in order to engage the biblical text and allow it to drive the sermon.
After laying the foundation for exposition, the authors then provide practical help in developing the skill of sermon crafting, contending that the preacher must be committed both to biblical truth and also to culturally relevant styles of communication. The book guides preachers in the technical aspects of building sermons that connect with contemporary culture, addressing such expected topics as sermon outlines, illustrations, introductions, and conclusions. What separates York and Decker's treatment of such topics apart from that of other homiletical works is the provision of numerous practical helps, clear examples, and specific references to relevant issues germane to the respective subjects.
Building on principles of sound exposition and effective sermon-building, Preaching with Bold Assurance then guides the preacher in the practice of skillful sermon delivery. The authors emphasize the need for the preacher to establish trust with the congregation by utilizing both verbal and visual communication. This contention is not a call for preachers to stoop to "selling the Gospel," but it is a warning that people may not even hear the Gospel if they do not find preachers credible. Listeners "must have an emotional response to the evangelist before they can ever hear the evangel."
Preaching with Bold Assurance is an enjoyable read because of the authors' use of numerous personal illustrations and practical examples. One particular quality that sets it apart from many preaching works is that the writers cut through the chase of homiletical theory and jargon. The book is simple and to the point. Additionally, York and Decker do a magnificent job of answering common objections to expository preaching and dispelling familiar myths related to its practice.
While one must be picky to identify weaknesses in the work, a humble attempt at objectivity brings two areas to the surface. First, while the authors do an outstanding job of distinguishing between preachers who have a working knowledge of the biblical languages and those who do not, the amount of time spent on diagramming passages is quite extensive in comparison to treatments of other subjects. However, this weightiness is likely due to York's background in New Testament studies, an emphasis which certainly is welcome to the serious student of biblical exposition. Second, the use of the Decker Grid System in crafting the sermon is somewhat laborious and appears at times to be forced on the process of biblical exposition. Consequently, the approach may limit the sermon in some cases from being entirely text-driven.
While the authors' first work was more Decker and less York, the current title is more York and less Decker. Consequently, the first book was driven predominantly by general communication theory. Pleasantly, this recent release is driven mainly by solid expositional and homiletical theory, making it a much more relevant tool for those commissioned with the preaching task. This work will serve well the serious preacher, teacher of preaching, and student of preaching in their pursuit of the much-needed synthesis of biblical exposition and relevant communication theory.