You’ve likely heard of Eutychus. He’s the guy that was sitting on a window sill and fell asleep during one of Paul’s lengthy sermons. Thankfully he was resuscitated and lived to tell the story. Sadly, Eutychus isn’t the only person that has fallen asleep during a sermon, he’s just the poor sap that got his narcoleptic fit recorded in the Scriptures.
People fall asleep every Sunday. Sometimes because of sleep deprivation throughout the week. At times because of the lighting. But more times than not because it’s the only fitting response to the preacher’s drone. It’s not that they are bored with the Word of God it’s just that the preacher hasn’t properly wielded the sword and captured their attention.
We can’t do anything about people falling asleep because they are exhausted. But we can do something about putting people to sleep because we are boring. Gary Millar and Phil Campbell have written Saving Eutychus to help people preach God’s word in such a way that you’ll have to fight to go to sleep instead of to stay awake.
What is a sermon that will keep people awake? A prayer-drenched expository sermon that passionately presents the Word of God as it is written. That is the way that I would sum up Millar and Campbell’s answer in Saving Eutychus.
The book begins with a call to prayer and then proceeds to help preachers understand the necessity of faithful expository preaching (one that is grounded by faithful biblical theology that points to Christ). Then there are a couple of sections that are discuss the delivery and preparation of the sermons. The book closes by challenging preachers to invite critique and actually gives a few examples of a sermon by one of the authors and a critique his counterpart.
If this isn’t your first book on preaching then there will be a good bit of this information that is not new. Many books argue for the necessity of expository preaching. More these days discuss the need for having every sermon point to Jesus and his gospel. Yet, few do so in such an engaging and accessible manner.
This is the type of book that any preacher would benefit from. If you’ve been preaching for fifty years or fifty minutes there are things here that you can learn from. Personally, I’ve been preaching in various capacities for about ten years now. There were many things in this book that challenged me and caused me to analyze a few areas in which I might be stuck in a rut.
I especially appreciated the inclusion of a recent sermon that Campbell’s preached. He intentioned to use “the sermon [he is] working on right now, in real time” instead of “[his] best-ever sermon”. That made it really helpful. Writing through the process of sermon prep and delivery will be a phenomenal help to many preachers (including me). Furthermore, the addition of Millar’s critique also helps.
The book has an authentic feeling to it that is not present in some preaching books. It makes the preacher feel as if what these guys are saying actually would be translatable into any local church context. They are not talking about anything that will make the everyday preacher assume that he needs to start taking seminary courses just to exposit God’s Word. (Though, I’m not saying that cannot be a tool to assist in that endeavor). Campbell and Millar speak as one common preacher speaking to another—and this helpful.
I’m grateful for this book and I would recommend it to any regular preacher of God’s Word.