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Preaching That Changes Lives: Paperback – September 19, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Fabarez, a California pastor, challenges his fellow preachers to transform the way they preach in this impassioned call for life-altering ministry. A well-written and moving sermon isn't "real preaching," Fabarez argues: real preaching "brings about changes that conform a person to the image of Christ." With in-depth analysis, quotes from theologians from Martin Luther to John MacArthur (who pens this volume's foreword) and a range of Bible verses to back up his claims, Fabarez makes his case that many pastors in fail to preach as Jesus exemplified. His solution to the problem? Give sermons that are Christ-centered and applicable to everyday life, and that unabashedly hold the congregants accountable for their sins while simultaneously encouraging them to be more committed to the church. Fabarez admits that such strong standards will make some churchgoers uncomfortable, but he is unapologetic: "We work for their good," he reminds his colleagues, "not for their pleasure and comfort." He demonstrates the crucial principle of application with stories from his own experience, and outlines several ways (through prayer, study habits, sermon tools, etc.) that doctrine can be intertwined with exhortations for change. Fabarez is also quick to remind his peers that while they're working at changing the lives of their parishioners, they must first be about the business of changing, transforming and renewing their own lives and their commitment to God.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Dr. Mike Fabarez is the Senior Pastor of Compass Bible Church in Orange County, California. Pastor Mike was educated at the University of Arizona, The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, Talbot School of Theology, and Westminster Theological Seminary in California. His preaching is heard across the country on the Focal Point Radio program. He and his wife Carlynn have three children, Matthew, John, and Stephanie.
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The great distinctive of this book s that it's focus is not on preparation or delivery, although it does touch helpfully on those subjects, but rather on results. The author goes so far as to state that preaching that does not result in changed lives is not truly expository preaching (19-20) and that the mark of good preaching is not found in the delivery or the content of the sermon, but rather in the fruit born in the lives of the hearers. And this point sets the tone for the book and illuminates the books greatest strength. Whereas most books on preaching focus on what takes place in the pastor's study and in the pulpit, Preaching That Changes Lives focuses on what happens in the pews and the in the homes of the flock.
Particularly helpful was Fabarez's chapter on outlining the sermon. The author advocates not basing the outline on merely the content of the passage being preached, but around the application that the passage demands, and should include direct second person address. This is something I have never heard before, and requires more thought and reflection on my part. While I am not sure if this is a universal methodology to always be employed, I see clearly the benefits of this approach and will seek to incorporate in my Homeletical thinking in the future.
A great strength of the book is also that the author doesn't merely instruct, but he also models throughout his writing. The book is peppered with descriptive language, useful scriptural cross references and vivid illustrations, almost all of which are immediately followed by a point of application for the reader. The author also models using an illustrative story to secure interest as he introduces each chapter.
Also very helpful was the concluding section on "follow through to change lives". His emphasis on modeling personal accountability and manifesting a changed life in response to the specific truths preached every week coupled with his call to hospitality, transparency and to share your leisure time with your flock in many ways provides a valuable, if brief, update of the call for home visitations contained in Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor.
My chief criticism of the book is of the chapter 7, "come to grips with the time it takes to prepare a life changing sermon." Although he is right to point out that preparing a sermon is hard work and takes great time and effort, it almost seems as if he is advocating neglecting other pastoral tasks. He states (although he does qualify the statement) "The supremacy of preparation...must be evident to everybody. Indeed it must be clear that you are called to preparation..." Preparation is not supreme, love is, and there are times when study must take a back seat, at least temporarily, to shepherding, counseling, visitation and other pastoral obligations. The author elsewhere states that Saturday is the day that he crafts his sermon, and I have to wonder if that seeming procrastination isn't part of the reason that he so fiercely guards preparation time. Effective preparation demands time and effort, but should be allocated the time it requires, not require all of the time allocated to it.
Other than this one minor criticism I found the book very helpful and would heartily recommend it to anyone who aspires to preach expositorily.
Preaching is structured with a four-part design. Beginning with “Rethink Your Task”, the author begins to lay a foundation that is as old as the biblical text, yet new to so many who have been fed a steady diet of fads and formulas for preaching success. The book deals with an explanation of the Greek words that describe the task of preaching, and builds upon the biblical mandate throughout.
Part Two sets the first story of the structure, with the overall purpose of the book as found in the title, that being to “Prepare to Change Lives”. It is important to note, that while the reviewer found the title of the book to be somewhat antithetical to the message, part two contains somber warnings regarding the pride of the preacher. Drawing from Jesus’ teaching Matt 23, Fabarez contends that, “the love of man’s approval quickly degenerates into something far worse, fueling the preacher’s hypocrisy on every level.” (p. 28) Readers are instructed to value authenticity in their private lives, over an effective public persona. This includes a devoted prayer life, intense time in the word and a disciplined schedule, that includes making time for intimate discourse with those who are in the congregation.
Part Three speaks to the style of preaching; specifically it speaks to a style that is understandable, well organized, authoritative, and thorough in preparation of the hearer. The portion covering the hearer was unique to other preaching books read by the reviewer. Beginning on page 151, Fabarez directs readers to prepare to hear, rather than simply rolling in on a Sunday morning. He states, “Most people wake up less than two hours before the service begins, and half don’t eat anything for breakfast.” (p.153) He continues by directing readers to prepare the people to hear, and to to retain.
Section four brings preaching to bear on the direction of the broader body-life of the congregation, where Fabarez continues to drive home the application with direction on accountability, commitment, counseling and even written questions (pp. 176-81).
Fabarez writes with a clarity that is both engaging and accessible. The reviewer did not find himself bogged down by high-minded academic language aimed at the elite theologian, but was consistently engaged by an author who is biblical, clear, (and often times sharply) presents his point. There are ample illustrations and appendices to assist the preacher who desires to immediately apply what he has read. Surprising to the reviewer, Preaching begins with a look at the failures of the author. Fabarez continues with this self-deprecating style, which keeps the concepts accessible, rather than ivory tower in their presentation.
Preaching that Changes Lives is not for the easily offended or faint of heart, but it is for the pastor who knows that he must tremble at the weightiness of the call to preach. The reviewer can heartily recommend it to every biblically devoted expositor for a refining tool, to the pragmatist who is convicted of his devotion to the latest gimmicks and to the seminarian who seeks to prayerfully lay a Christ-honoring foundation for their future preaching ministry. This book should be read at least once every two, if not one year by every faithful pastor. It will provide encouragement in orthodoxy, indictment in cowardice and a constant reminder that Preachers are to prayerfully aim for “Preaching that Changes Lives.”
Many feel that they should not apply scripture, that this is God's job. Fabarez disabuses this notion, and i am glad for it. Application is probably the second most important aspect to good preaching, and it is often shallow or non-existent. People need to leave with the "so what?" question answered convincingly. This book will help you do just that.
(FYI, this is a book for those who are committed to expositional preaching)
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