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saving eutychusI have read a number of books on how to be a faithful preacher but I have generally stayed away from books that aim to help make sermons interesting. The latter seem like pragmatic gimmicks and tend to read like fingernails down the homiletical chalkboard. If I am being faithful, then of course it is interesting! Right?

Well, sort of.

Gary Millar and Phil Campbell politely request an audience with guys who think this way. They believe that preachers should work to be both faithful and interesting.

In their book Saving Eutychus: How to preach God's Word and keep people awake, the authors labor to equip and encourage pastors to be intentional and prayerful in every aspect of their sermon preparation and delivery.

The authors remind readers of the priority of prayer, the necessity of remembering the point of the text and how it is inexcusable to forget the gospel in a sermon. To help with the process of sermon prep they let the reader join them in the study to watch them build a sermon. They also allow us to sit in on a sermon critique/feedback.

I loved the book and recommend it heartedly.

I also had some mild critiques. The authors advocate for particularly short sermons (20 minutes). This is less reasonable in my context and would probably be seen not as an attempt to keep people awake but rather not properly feeding. They also advocate writing out their sermons in manuscript form. This is a great method used by many, however, their form of manuscript includes a type of writing that may be difficult for many. They advocate writing out the sermon like you would talk to someone. This includes many grammatical practices that would be a bit of a jump for me. It would be like a new language. I appreciate the concept of a more conversational, easy to follow approach, but it is more difficult for me to write that way. These are minor critiques that did not bother me, in fact they made me think hard and consider my own context and practice.

One other area that I walked away encouraged was illustrations. They helped me to see the need for intentional illustrations. I like to use word pictures and have noticed that I have gotten lazy in that way. This book helped remind me to illustrate the obvious and do so in a way that will bring home the point well to the congregation. This refresher along with the priority of repetition make it a helpful reminder for me. I will plan to reread this next year as I'm looking to refresh and refine.

Pick up discounted copies of Saving Eutychus at Amazon.

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One thought on “Book Review- Saving Eutychus”

  1. Phil Campbell says:

    Thanks for the gracious review. To be clear, I didn’t recommend 20 minute sermons. I simply said, ‘make sure you stop before you start boring people.’ At that point they’re not listening anyway! In my own case, I’ve figured I can keep going for around 23 minutes, which I mentioned. But I also pointed out that more gifted speakers can go longer. The trick is, I think, to honestly assess whether people are still with you. Many preachers (in my experience) don’t know when to stop. I’d rather encourage them to err on the side of caution, at least for a while… Phil

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Erik Raymond

Erik Raymond is senior pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Ne. He and his wife Christie have six children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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