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Ten Books Every Preacher Must Read

Every leader is a reader. The same goes for preachers. The effective preachers I know are constantly trying to improve their craft by reading the best books on preaching and communication. Here are ten books I believe every preacher must read.

Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte is a communication expert who has analyzed countless sermons and speeches in search of the Holy Grail for creating effective presentations. She has found it and in this fascinating and enlightening book she reveals it. If you want the secret ingredient to preaching captivating sermons read this book.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath

This book should be required reading for every preaching and public speaking class. It is not specifically about verbal communication but it applies to anyone who wants their message to be remembered. There is a reason why you remember some messages and forget others. If you want your sermon to live beyond Sunday heed the advice of the Heath brothers.

Surviving the Stained Glass Jungle by Bill Self

A pastor of large churches for over 50 years, Bill Self was a spectacular preacher and ministry sage. He passed away a couple of years ago but his indispensable wisdom lives on in this invaluable book. His chapter on preaching alone is worth 100 times the cost of the book. Read it and go from good to great as a preacher and pastor.

Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley

It is foolish not to learn from one of the best Christian communicators in the country. Regardless of how you may feel about Stanley’s theology or approach, there is a reason why he leads one of the largest churches in America and pastors flock to Atlanta to learn from him. If you want to learn how to preach to millennials buy this book.

TED Talks: The Official TED GUIDE to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson

The popularity of Ted Talks is good news for preachers. Public speaking as a medium is very much alive and well. Of course not all sermons are as engaging as many Ted Talks, which is why every preacher should read this book. Chris Anderson is the “head cheese” of Ted Talks and in this book he lays out why so many Ted Talks are compelling and shows you how to apply the principles to your sermons and presentations. Have this one nearby when you prepare sermons.

The Witness of Preaching by Tom Long

This is the only preaching textbook on the list. I don’t have a problem with textbooks, but they are not always accessible and practical. What I like about Long’s book is that it combines homiletic theory with practice. His chapter on biblical exegesis for preaching is the best one I’ve read on the subject. Stay sharp as a biblical preacher by reading this book.

Determining the Form by O. Wesley Allen

The importance of sermon design cannot be overstated. It is not just what a sermon is about; it’s how it’s about it.  Allen has a strong grasp on different sermon forms and styles and he shows you how to use them effectively in your own preaching. Read this book and you will be able to structure your sermons with power.

Moving Mountains: The Art of Letting Others See Things Your Way by Henry Boettinger

This book is out of print but its principles are timeless. So snag a used copy off the internet. If you only buy the book for chapter 3 on “How to Get and Hold Attention” it is well worth whatever price you pay. 40 years ago Boettinger discovered the same Holy Grail for irresistible presentations as Nancy Duarte. In the book (chapter 3) he dissects the “grail” and gives you a deeper understanding of the technique.

Public Speaking as Listeners Like It! by Richard Borden

This is by far the oldest book on the list. It has been out of print for years but do yourself a favor and find a used copy on Amazon. I know public speaking instructors who would not sell their copy for a hundred dollars. In the book long time public speaking guru Richard Borden lays out his simple “Borden Formula” for giving speeches. But don’t let the simplicity of his approach fool you. Try preaching your next sermon using his method and watch what happens. You will be amazed.

The Sir Winston Method by James Humes

What preacher could not benefit from learning about what made Churchill a great communicator? Hume is a longtime expert on public speaking and in this intriguing book he unpacks Churchill’s formula for success as a speaker. This book contains priceless gems that will improve your skills as a communicator.

Do you have a good book on preaching or communication to recommend? Please add it in the comment section below.

Comments (4)
  1. Dave Rogers

    For goodness sakes Charley, how in the world could you have omitted “That’ll Preach?”
    Hands down, your book is at the top of the list of those that teach-how-to-preach!
    Pastor Dave Rogers

    • Thanks so much Dave! Well I think my book is pretty good, but there’s not much credibility when it’s on my own list! Lol! But your endorsement on the other hand! Thanks!

      • Dave Rogers

        O.K. young man, here’s the deal.
        Your comment about negating your credibility because it’s “your” list is pure bull-feathers. Below, I have included comments that I wrote for an additional Course Of Study assignment. This is a real life assessment that supports having your recent book on the list of “must-read” items for preachers.

        Write eight sentences on two qualities you have seen in a Godly leader.

        In reply to this question, it first became a struggle to identify which Godly leader I would describe. I am fortunate to know many, but I will limit my discussion to two qualities I see in Reverend Dr. Charlie Reeb.

        The first quality I see in my friend/instructor is his passion for preaching the gospel in a thought-provoking and challenging manner. Charley is one of those preachers who really enjoys himself as he bring his congregation to a tipping point where, quite often, they must decide on which side of the fence they are to fall in any given theological discussion. Self-assessment is a common theme as Charley is gifted in leading members of his congregation into asking themselves how they would have responded to a particular biblical dilemma.

        The second tremendous quality I see in this Godly leader is his unique ability to break down a sermon to its nuts-and-bolts so that a student of preaching may clearly understand what methods produce an effective delivery to a congregation. In Reeb’s book, “That’ll Preach,” numerous tips on effective preaching methods are clearly and logically developed to the degree that his congregations often become spell-bound as they sit on the edge of their seats waiting for the punch line.

        Charley’s Godly gifts are many, but the two that jump out as you see this red-headed fellow get excited about the Lord are his love for the gospel as displayed in his passion for preaching and his unique ability to analyze the processes and methods that work together to dovetail into an effective and compelling sermon.
        ************************************************************************

        So Charley, at the very least, perhaps you should consider adding an 11th book to the must-read list.
        Pastor Dave Rogers

        • Dave, I am not sure how to respond that. Wow. I’m overwhelmed. Although there are a lot better examples of Godly leaders out there, I am grateful for your kind words and affirmation. God bless you my friend.

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