New Books: Power in the Pulpit and Progress in the Pulpit.

Image Source: Moody Publishers

Image Source: Moody Publishers

Power in the Pulpit: How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons

Power in the Pulpit is an updated and revised edition of the original expository preaching textbook released in 1999. It’s a comprehensive ‘how-to’ book on preparing and delivering expository sermons. The revision lays out a more focused philosophy (Ch. 1) and theology (Ch. 2) of expository preaching, as well as a more simplified process of moving from exegesis to sermon preparation (Chs. 4-6).

In this work, Drs. Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix have achieved a balanced approach to sermon preparation in Power in the Pulpit. This primer combines the perspective of a pastor of forty years with that of someone who devotes daily time to training pastors in the context of theological education. It offers practical preaching instruction from a tradition that sees biblical exposition as a paramount and frequent event in the life of the local church.

Power in the Pulpit is the combined work of Dr. Vines’s two earlier publications on preaching: A Practical Guide to Sermon Preparation (Moody Publishers, 1985) and A Guide to Effective Sermon Delivery (Moody Publishers, 1986). Dr. Shaddix carefully organized and supplemented the material to offer this useful resource that closes the gap between classroom theory and what a pastor actually experiences in his weekly sermon preparation.


Progress in the Pulpit: How to Grow in Your Preaching

Image Source: Moody Publishers

Image Source: Moody Publishers

Progress in the Pulpit is a companion volume that encourages preachers to continue to grow in their preaching. Each of the 12 chapters addresses a different subject wherein a preacher can make progress in his preaching (e.g., planning, evaluating, using language, depending on the Spirit, pulpit disciple-making, etc.).

Like musicans, preachers get better over time—unless, of course, they neglect maintenance. Progress in the Pulpit is for seasoned preachers looking to refresh their craft and receive guidance for contemporary challenges to preaching.

While most preaching books are geared toward new preachers, Progress in the Pulpit builds on the basics and focuses on what often falls into neglect. You will learn to better:

  • Connect to audiences without compromising biblical truth
  • Plan, evaluate, and get feedback on sermons
  • Battle biblical illiteracy in your congregation
  • Employ word studies and other technical aspects of biblical interpretation
  • Increase imagination and creativity in sermon writing
  • Extend the life of a sermon via social media, small groups, and more
  • Establish habits for continued growth

Drs. Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix, who wrote Power in the Pulpit, remain committed to pure expository preaching. Yet they understand that the times change and present new challenges. Here they offer guidance to help preachers stay sharp and grow in the craft of faithfully proclaiming God’s Word.


Dr. Jerry Vines (B.A., Mercer University; Th.D., Luther Rice Seminary) retired as pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida in 2006, where he served for 40 years. He served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Jerry is author of a number of books including Power in the Pulpit: How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons, and A Practical Guide to Sermon Preparation. He and his wife, Janet, have four adult children and five grandchildren.

Dr. Jim Shaddix (BS, Jacksonville State University; M.Div., D.Min., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Ph.D., New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, occupying the W. A. Criswell Chair of Expository Preaching. He has pastored churches in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Colorado, and also served as Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, LA. Jim is the author of The Passion Driven Sermon (Broadman & Holman, 2003) and co-author of Power in the Pulpit with Jerry Vines (Moody, 1999). Jim and his wife, Debra, focus much of their attention on discipling and mentoring young leaders and spouses. They have three grown children.


Five Preaching Role Models, Part 2

In my last post, I shared my conviction that preachers become better preachers primarily through two means: regular pulpit experience and learning from good preaching role models. I shared my first two role models, Drs. Adrian Rogers and Jerry Vines. I continue in many ways to be shaped by their early example. It was a great joy to enroll in seminary and finally have the chance to hear both of these brothers preach in person. I was only able to hear Dr. Rogers once, about a week before he entered into his heavenly reward. I’ve now heard Dr. Vines preach several times, and I hope to hear him several more.

My other three key preaching role models are a little different. One of them primarily influenced me through a handful of sermons rather than regular preaching. The other was, until relatively recently, probably better known for his teaching than his preaching. The final one is my current pastor.

John Piper

I have a confession. Though it may surprise some readers, I am not someone who has listened to thousands of John Piper sermons. But even though I’ve never been a regular listener to his preaching ministry, Dr. Piper has definitely influenced me in a couple of ways.

In 1998, I was a college sophomore who was invited by a friend to attend a Passion Conference in Dallas with his university’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry. While I enjoyed the whole conference, I was blown away when this short fellow wearing a suit-clearly not one of the “cool” speakers-stepped behind the podium and delivered what for me was a life-changing sermon. He spoke about being part of a generation that would give up anything for the gospel, a generation where everyone was a missionary, a generation where we valued Christ more than the American Dream. I was gripped, and over the next several months I managed to get hold of another couple of Dr. Piper’s sermons that addressed similar themes.

As I’ve reflected on those sermons over the years, the word that most often comes to mind is gravity. Yes, Dr. Piper was passionate. Yes, he was expositional. Yes, he was evangelistic. Yes, he was theological. But the total package produced sermons that brought the gravity of the gospel to life, at least for me. While Dr. Piper didn’t really influence my preaching style, his example did cause me to have a heightened appreciation for what the Holy Spirit can accomplish through the preaching of the Word. Though I’ve probably heard a couple dozen of his sermons over the years, it only took the first couple to get the point across.

Russ Moore

When Leah and I moved to Louisville to attend Southern Seminary, we heard a lot of people talking about Russ Moore. I knew who he was from the then-recent book Why I Am a Baptist (which he co-edited with Tom Nettles), but I didn’t know anything about him. The summer before I began classes, we joined Ninth and O Baptist Church. At that time, Dr. Moore was teaching the young adults Sunday School class we joined and was in a rotation of men who preached on Sunday evenings. During my two years in Louisville, I heard him preach at least ten or twelve times at either the church or in chapel, in addition to his very sermonish weekly Bible teaching in Sunday School and his often homiletically inclined theology classes at the seminary. Dr. Moore is now a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, where he preaches weekly.

Russ Moore is a fantastic preacher who modeled at least two habits that have fundamentally shaped my preaching. First, he modeled how to preach the whole Bible as a Christ-centered grand narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration-the true story of the world. Second, he had a knack for application. When Dr. Moore preaches, he doesn’t just throw in a trite point or two of practical application. He overtly makes application both spiritual and practical, and it is clear he spends time thinking about how many ways and to how many different types of people the sermon’s text can be applied. (As an aside, he also has the spiritual gift of clever sermon titles, but as I am far less creative than Dean Moore, I’ve long given up on attempting to follow his example in this regard.)

Andy Davis

Almost five years ago, Leah and I joined the First Baptist Church of Durham, NC. Our pastor, Andy Davis, is a great preacher who in many ways represents for me a mixture of the very best of all the other key preaching role models who’ve influenced me. Like Dr. Rogers and Dr. Vines, he’s an evangelistic expositor who takes Scripture seriously. Like Dr. Piper, there is a consistent gravity to his preaching that affects almost everyone who regularly sits under his preaching. Like Dr. Moore, he is a “big picture” expositor who understands that Scripture is also a story of promise and fulfillment, with Jesus Christ at the center of the plot.

The major thing that Andy has modeled for me is effective illustration. All of the men I’ve mentioned are good illustrators, but Leah and I are consistently amazed at the ways that Andy illustrates the vital points of his sermons. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a terrible illustrator. I mean, I really stink at it. So I am consistently encouraged and challenged by the creative ways that Andy finds real life examples to illustrate the timeless truths of the gospel. In addition, he is also utterly unflashy-he lets the Word do the work. The longer I preach, the more and more I become aware of how little preaching has to do with my own labors and talents and how much it has to do with God working through His man expounding His Word to His people for His glory.

In closing, there are many other men who have positively influenced my preaching. Current and former South Georgia preachers such as my former pastors John Clough and David Drake and my friends Mike Stone and Don Hattaway have all been excellent role models. In seminary, Danny Akin, Hershael York, Stephen Rummage, and especially my former pastor Bill Cook were influential. Dozens of chapel speakers have helped shape me over the years. In addition to Dr. Akin, several of my current colleagues at SEBTS continue to influence my own preaching with their fine examples. And in this day of podcasts and internet sermons, I’ve benefitted greatly from the preaching of men like Lig Duncan, Sinclair Ferguson, Matt Chandler, David Platt, Phil Newton, and Tim Keller.

Five Preaching Role Models, Part 1

I am thankful for the two preaching classes I took in seminary. I’m also thankful for many of the fine preaching books I’ve read over the years. And I’m thankful for many of the preaching conferences I’ve attended. Each of these tools has contributed to my own DNA as a preacher.

Though I am thankful for classes, books, and conferences, I am not convinced that any of them “make” a man a preacher, let alone a good preacher. Classes are helpful for teaching sermon preparation skills and offering public speaking input. Books are helpful for learning about preaching skills, techniques, priorities, or emphases (among other things). And conferences can be very inspirational and convicting. But I am convinced that most preachers become better preaches by doing two things: preaching regularly and learning from good preaching role models. This post focuses on the latter.

I have had the privilege of hearing many good preachers over the years. Some of them I’ve heard live. Others I’ve heard primarily through various media. Some of them I’ve heard week in and week out. Others I’ve only heard only once or twice. Of all the good preachers I’ve heard, I think five men have positively influenced my own preaching more than any others.

In this post, I will begin with the first two preachers who shaped my approach to preaching. In a second post, I will discuss three of my other preaching role models. Though there are many good things I could say about each man’s preaching, for the sake of brevity I’ll focus on one or two aspects of each man’s pulpit ministry that particularly influenced me.

Adrian Rogers

For most of my high school years, I was a lost legalist who was active in my church’s youth group and trying desperately to earn my salvation through good works, primarily of the religious kind. Beginning with my junior year, I began driving a delivery truck for my father’s auto parts business. I spent several hours a day in a company truck listening to the radio-much of it Christian radio. I began listening to several preachers, but by far my favorite was Adrian Rogers.

Dr. Rogers frequently preached through books of the Bible, and he preached through them with authority. I appreciated his rock-solid convictions, his boldness, and the way he combined deeper-than-average biblical teaching with hotter-than-average evangelistic fervor. As I was struggling with my own understanding of the gospel, the Lord used Dr. Rogers’ sermons through Revelation as a key means in my own conversion. By the time I was finished with my freshman year of college, I was an itinerant preacher and soon-to-be youth minister. I was a bona fide “preacher boy,” and I wanted to preach a lot like Adrian Rogers, even though I didn’t have that voice. Oh, to have that voice.

Jerry Vines

Shortly after I became a Christian, I felt the Lord calling me to the gospel ministry. As mentioned above, I was preaching fairly regularly for a young collegian. I was also continuing to listen to good preachers on the radio and television. Because we lived in Southeast Georgia, most of our television stations were based in Jacksonville, FL. One of them televised services from the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. While I was getting dressed on Sunday morning, I watched Jerry Vines’ sermon from the previous Sunday night at FBC Jacksonville. He quickly became my other favorite preacher.

Dr. Vines also preached though books of the Bible. In fact, it was really through listening to Dr. Vines that I first discovered the difference between an expositional sermon and a topical sermon. I loved the way that you really learned about a book of the Bible as Dr. Vines worked his way through it. And like Dr. Rogers, Dr. Vines was also concerned about being both an evangelist and a teacher. (As an aside, Dr. Vines was also funny-sometimes really funny-but without coming off like a wannabe comedian. His humor almost always helped to clarify the sermon’s point, and I never got the impression he was trying to be funny for the sake of scoring laughs.) It was largely through regularly listening to Dr. Vines’ preaching that I decided I not only wanted to be a preacher, but an expositional preacher. When I became an interim pastor at 20 years old, I immediately started preaching through books and sections of the Bible. I still have many of the outlines I prepared for those (awful!) sermons on Ephesians, the Ten Commandments, 1 John, Philippians, and the Parables.mobiles online game