As an organization, we thought it would be helpful to compile a few lists of the best books on expository preaching so those in our training can know where to turn for further study and those who don’t know us can learn what we’re all about.
The following ten books match the “preaching DNA” of our organization and our Training National Trainers and Fellowship of the Word programs; that is, they communicate our core convictions and methodology for expository preaching and task of a preacher.
These ten recommendations may overlap some in subject matter, but are useful for new preachers, growing preachers, and experienced preachers wanting a tune up in their thinking or preaching.
Also Worth Mentioning:10 Recommended Books on Biblical Theology
10 Recommended Books on Expository Preaching
1. Speaking God’s Words: A Practical Theology of Preaching by Peter Adam
There are many books on preaching, but few, if any, on the theology of preaching. Yet, whether it is recognized or not, theology underlies any preaching that claims to be biblical. In Speaking God’s Words Peter Adam builds confidence in preaching by laying a firm theological foundation for it. Preaching rests upon three great pillars: God has spoken, his words are now recorded in Scripture and he commissions people “to explain, preach and teach his written words to their contemporaries.” Throughout the book, using well-chosen illustrations, Dr Adam encourages preachers to give themselves to the demanding yet thrilling task of “preaching God’s words” today.
2. When God’s Voice is Heard: The Power of Preaching Edited by John Stott, Christopher Green, David Jackman
What is the place of preaching in the life of the church today? What priority does the Sunday sermon have when new church structures and ever-changing technology seem to exacerbate the increasing pastoral demands on a busy church leader? Good preaching is more than historical revelation, skilled oration, or the ability to give multimedia presentations. Rather it is the present Word of God to his people. And it is to communicate this that is the preacher’s first calling.
“Good preaching is the present Word of God to his people”, argues J. I. Packer. And it is to communicate this that is our first calling. In this inspiring collection of essays, experienced preachers explore the different aspects of preaching. The first edition of this book was subtitled as essays on preaching presented to Dick Lucas and this is a great line-up of contributors writing in gratitude to God for Dick’s faithful expository ministry over many years.
3. Setting Hearts on Fire: A Guide to Giving Evangelistic Talks by John Chapman
In this book, which is the fruit of his 40 years experience as an evangelist, John Chapman passes on the skills of his craft. He explains how telling people the gospel of Jesus Christ requires us to be servants: servants of the Word itself (to understand it accurately), and servants of the people (to explain it clearly).
Whether you are a person who teaches the Bible in a Sunday school class, a small group Bible study, Scripture at School, a teenage fellowship group or through preaching sermons, this book is for you. In his inimitable way, ‘Chappo’ shows you, step by step, how to prepare and deliver a talk that clearly explains the gospel of Jesus Christ.
4. The Archer and the Arrow: Preaching the Very Words of God by Philip Jensen and Paul Grimmond (See an illustration used in the book: Preachers as Stewards of the Mysteries of God)
“My aim is to preach the gospel by prayerfully expounding the Bible to the people God has given me to love.” (Phillip Jensen)
Join Phillip Jensen and Paul Grimmond as they explore each phrase in this carefully wrought statement, and show not only why faithful, powerful, biblical preaching is so important, but how to go about it.
Recommendation from William Taylor: “Preaching is the lifeblood of the local church. This is an outstanding book by one of the world’s foremost preachers, and is essential reading for any would-be Bible teacher.” (William Taylor, Rector, St Helen’s Bishopsgate, London, UK).
5. Saving Eutychus: How to Preach God’s Word and Keep People Awake by Gary Millar and Phil Campbell
Poor Eutychus might have tumbled off his perch in Acts 20, but it’s humbling to notice that what took Paul many hours of preaching to achieve – near-fatal napping in one of his listeners – takes most preachers only a few minutes on a Sunday.
Saving Eutychus will help you save your listeners from such a fate. Written by an Aussie and an Irishman with very different styles who share a passion for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, Saving Eutychus delivers fresh, honest, faithful and practical insights into preaching the whole word of God, Sunday by Sunday, without being dull.
6. Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell
This complete guide to expository preaching teaches the basics of preparation, organization, and delivery–the trademarks of great preaching. With the help of charts and creative learning exercises, Chapell shows how expository preaching can reveal the redemptive aims of Scripture and offers a comprehensive approach to the theory and practice of preaching. He also provides help for special preaching situations.
The second edition contains updates and clarifications, allowing this classic to continue to serve the needs of budding preachers. Numerous appendixes address many practical issues.
7. Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Words Today by David Helm
Preachers fill our church pulpits, conference stages, and television airwaves. But the question remains: What does good preaching sound like? In this accessible volume—written for church leaders and laypersons alike—pastor David Helm offers us an answer as he outlines the four foundational elements underlying truly life-giving, God-glorifying preaching: contextualization, exegesis, theological reflection, and application. Emphasizing faithful exposition of the biblical text over snappy sound bites or quippy platitudes, this short book offers practical, step-by-step guidance for preachers and will equip laypersons to recognize good preaching when they hear it.
8. Prepared to Preach: God’s Work and Ours in Preparing to Preach by Greg Scharf
‘Prepared to Preach’ offers an accessible and concise aid for all those who have been challenged to preach or feel a growing compulsion to do so. This is an essential read for all those who are wondering precisely where to start in preparing to expound God’s word, whether it is for the Divinity Student, the layperson, the parachurch worker or the short-term missionary. This is a comprehensive yet digestible guide.
Scharf focuses on the attitudes and skills those inexperienced in preaching need to develop, whilst at all times re- enforcing that although there are a number of things you, the preacher, must do, it is what God does that is at the heart of preaching. This book illuminates to us how to prepare our minds to preach, how to prepare the congregation to hear and obey God’s word, how to prepare the message God gives you to preach, and also how to deliver the message you have prepared.Throughout it all Scharf is motivated by a tremendous concern to equip preachers so that they might clearly express God’s word.
9. Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository PreachingGraeme Goldsworthy
Goldsworthy first examines the Bible, biblical theology, and preaching and shows how they relate in the preparation of Christ-centered sermons. He then applies the biblical-theological method to the various types of literature found in the Bible, drawing out their contributions to expository preaching focused on the person and work of Christ.
Clear, complete, and immediately applicable, this volume will become a fundamental text for teachers, pastors, and students preparing for ministry.
10. NIV Proclamation Bible: Correctly Handling the Word of Truth from Zondervan Publishers (be sure to read our review)
The NIV Proclamation Bible offers a valuable resource for those who teach from the Bible regularly and anyone who enjoys studying Scripture in greater depth. This edition, developed by Lee Gatiss in collaboration with the Proclamation Trust, includes a wealth of additional material from leading theologians, pastors, and Bible teachers to enhance your study of the word. The Bible features ten introductory essays on theology, doctrine and the application and interpretation of Scripture, as well as detailed overviews of each literary genre in the Bible–from the historical narratives to the apocalyptic literature. It also features introductions to every Bible book.
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Rev. Dr. R. Kent Hughes (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of practical theology with more than 40 years experience in pastoral ministry, including youth ministry, church planting, and 27 years as senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL. He has authored over 30 books, including Disciplines of a Godly Man and Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. He is also senior editor of the acclaimed Preaching the Word commentary series, authoring many of the New Testament volumes himself, including Mark: Jesus, Servant and Savior, which received the ECPA Gold Medallion Book Award for best commentary in 1990.
Dr. Hughes is also a founder of the Charles Simeon Trust, which conducts expository preaching conferences throughout North America and worldwide. A festschrift was published in his honor in 2008. Preach The Word: Essays on Expository Preaching in Honor of R. Kent Hughes includes contributions by D. A. Carson, Wayne Grudem, John F. MacArthur, Bruce Winter, J. I. Packer, Phillip Jensen, Philip Graham Ryken, Peter Jensen, and more.
Dr. Hughes’s primary academic and teaching interest is expository preaching. Particularly, he has spent his career studying and teaching a model of scholarly preaching that biblically integrates careful exegesis, Christ-centered biblical theology, and contemporary application. For those who are new to Dr. Hughes’s work on expositional preaching, he recommends several resources as places to start. He recommends watching two particular lectures from the 2014 Westminster Preaching Conference. Dr. Hughes considers these his prolegomena and rationale for biblical exposition. They are “Essential Bibliology” and “Essential Cardiology.” Also, consider his Preaching the Word commentary series, in particular, his volumes on Genesis, Luke, and 2 Corinthians.
- DD, Biola University, 1991
- DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1981
- MDiv, Talbot School of Theology, 1972
- BA, Whittier College, 1964
Rev. Dr. Hughes is senior pastor emeritus of College Church in Wheaton, IL, and a frequent preacher and speaker at churches, pastor’s retreats, mission conferences, men’s events, and workshops on biblical exposition.
Teaching and Professional History
- Westminster Theological Seminary, 2015–present
- Senior Pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL, 1979–2006
- Church planter in Southern California, 1974–1979
- Adjunct professor at Talbot School of Theology, 1974–1979
- Served variously as high school pastor, college pastor and associate pastor, 1963–1974
- Youth for Christ Club Director, 1960–61
- Expository Skills & Evaluation (PT221)
- Mentored Ministry Integration Seminar (PT021P)
- Illustrating Biblical Truth (PT 471)
Boards and Memberships
- Board member of the The Gospel Coalition
- Board member of Crossway Books
- Translation Oversight Committee of the English Standard Version
- Evangelical Theological Society
- Americans United for Life
- Founding Chairman of the Charles Simeon Trust