Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Review: Saving Eutychus by Gary Millar and Phil Campbell

Preaching is a form of worship, but it is hard work. Listening to preach is also a form of worship and is also hard work. How does a preacher of the word keep his listeners awake? Gary Millar and Phil Campbell deal with this issue in their book, Saving Eutychus.

Now you might be wondering who is Eutychus. He is known in the Bible for fallen asleep while listening to the Apostle Paul for many hours when he fell off a window ledge, three stories high, and broke his neck. Paul raised him from the dead immediately after he died. This story is recorded in Acts 20:7-12.

What does this short story in the Bible has to do with preaching? Like it or not, many people find themselves drifting during sermons. You yourself probably have been guilty of fallen asleep or just let your mind trail during a sermon. Millar and Campbell's approach to the book is not as experts in keeping people awake during preaching, but "are convinced that when attention wanders and eyes droop, it's more often our fault than our listeners'. It's our job to keep people awake, and we'll take the blame if they fall out of the window...Our challenge is not just to avoid being deadly dull. Our challenge is to be faithful, accurate and clear as we cut to the heart of the biblical text and apply what God is really saying in a way that cuts to the hearts of people who are really listening...Saving Eutychus doesn't just mean keeping him awake. It means doing our best to keep him fresh and alert so he can hear the truth of the gospel and be saved. If we have done our job, we will stand up on Sunday ready to deliver a sermon on a Bible passage that we have wrestled with and that the Holy Spirit has begun to apply to our own hearts and lives" (pgs. 14-15).

The entire book deals with the practicality of preaching. Millar and Campbell remind the reader that preaching is not all about you. What I love about this book, is the case it makes why preaching such be expository and not just read a verse and go on your way, which many churches do. The book also gives tips on being clear to your listeners as well as talking about to how to study the text. They even addressed preaching the gospel from the Old Testament which can be a difficult task in itself. The book also addresses the importance of critique which for some pastors can be bruital especially if you listen or watch yourself on a podcast.

Alistair Begg said this book was on his "must read" list for preachers and I totally agree. I learned a lot from this book. I believe all preachers, especially those just starting ministry, will benefit from this book.

Thanks Matthias Media for allowing me to review this book.

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