Summer Reading Suggestions

Kris BarnettKristopher Barnett, Ministry Tools, Preaching

I hope that you summer plans include some time for the three R’s: Rest, Recuperation, and Reading.  I confess, I added the last one, but doesn’t reading help with the first two?  I don’t know about you, but reading stretches and strengthens me.  If you are looking for a summer read, I have a recommendation, Saying It Well: Touching Others with Your Words by chuck Swindoll. 

 In Saying It Well: Touching Others With Your Words, noted pastor and author Chuck Swindoll offers practical, personal advice on effective communication.  Swindoll focuses on his specialty, preaching, but he also provides broad tips for all speakers.  Pastors in particular will enjoy the opportunity to discover how this masterful communicator develops and delivers sermons.  The pulpit master provides practical insight on topics like illustration and application as well as the appropriate use of humor in preaching.  In a chapter titled, “Digging”, Swindoll reveals his weekly routine for sermon preparation.  This chapter pulls back the curtain and allows preachers to see how Swindoll crafts his messages and manages his time.    

 In addition to the numerous nuggets of practical advice on homiletics, Swindoll also provides revealing glimpses into his experiences in ministry.  Personally, I found his testimony on attempting to discern God’s direction when contemplating ministry moves to be insightful because Swindoll shared both the positive and the negative experiences.  For example, Swindoll recounted an experience where he accepted and then rejected a call to a new congregation before he had ever preached his first sermon!  Having experienced similar instances when discerning God’s voice proved difficult, I found comfort in Swindoll’s frank testimony. 

 This honest manuscript provides the reader a rare, behind-the-scenes view of a prominent pastor.  It reads less like a how-to on homiletics and more like the memoirs of a pastor.  I am confident that if you select Saying It Well for your summer reading you will appreciate the communication tips and admire Swindoll’s candor.

 If you enjoy Saying It Well and are interested in other books that fall into the category of pastoral memoirs, here are a couple of additional recommendations:

  1. Life Is Mostly Edges: A Memoir.  This reflective piece by Calvin Miller vividly recounts the journey of this church planter, pastor, professor, and poet.  My colleague, Michael Duduit, calls Miller the Poet Laurete of today’s evangelical world.  The reader should not be surprised by Miller’s skillful phrasing and engaging narrative.  Edges offers insight and inspiration.
  2. The Pastor: A Memoir. Eugene Peterson, the man who provided The Message paraphrase of Scripture, spent the majority of his ministry career as a pastor.  In The Pastor, Peterson recounts his experiences and reveals his convictions about pastoral ministry.  Peterson has written extensively on the subject of pastoral ministry:  The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity, Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness, and Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work.  Each of these selections would challenge and inspire you as a pastor.