Latest Links

It’s the end of the week – here are the links…

Latest Links

Links from around the web worth checking out…

NEW and FREE resources for leaders

Two great new and free resources for leaders: 

1) Theological Clarity: Equipping Leaders in Biblical Doctrine

Scott Thomas has produced this workbook based on Wayne Grudem’s systematic theology books.  Download it HERE.

2) 15 hour, 4-Part Sermon Prep Outline

Justin Buzzard has produced this booklet on how to prepare a sermon.  Download it HERE.

Latest Links

So many links worth having a look at, here’s a load more…

Check out: The Jesus Storybook Bible Website

JSBBible Blog

The Jesus Storybook Bible is great!  Tim Keller enthusiastically recommended it at EMA to help preachers a few years ago.  I’ve read it to my kids and they love it and I’m looking forward to the audio version read by David Suchet which comes out later this year.  In the meantime check out this new website with loads of stuff worth having a look at HERE.

Here are some of things you’ll find:

  • Listen to five of the stories HERE.
  • Some free downloads HERE.
  • Interview with Sally Lloyd-Jones (author) HERE.
  • Interview with Jago (illustrator) HERE.
  • Interview with David Suchet HERE.

And don’t forget to buy the book HERE.  UK readers find a great deal at HERE.

Why Johnny Can’t Preach (T. David Gordon)

Am I Johnny?  Hopefully not.  Maybe I am.  Even if I’m not Johnny I need to think through the message of ‘Why Johnny Can’t Preach’ just as much as the person who is Johnny.  This book is written by a man who thought this might be his last message and has one simple aim, better preaching!


T. David Gordon is passionate about good preaching.  Unfortunately there is lots of bad preaching taking place in pulpits.  So this short book ‘Why Johnny Can’t Preach’ is his appeal to preachers to do something about it.  And it’s a great book, one of the best that I’ve read this year. 

The book begins by pointing to some reasons why much preaching today is so poor.  Some of the reasons he gives for this is the absence of Dabney’s ‘Cardinal Requisites’, sermons are too long as measured in minutes-beyond-interest of the hearers, ministers are resistant to annual reviews, and because of changes in the dominant media. 

Two areas he then focuses on are how the changes in media have affected the way that preachers read (chapter 2) and write (chapter 3).  

He says that people now read for information and content without an appreciation for how it has been written.  The pace of television and other electronic media puts in danger, close reading of the texts and an ability to apprehend what is really significant.  The effect of this is seen in sermons which lack a close reading of the text and which focus on trivial matters. 

Also he says that speaking to people without seeing them (talking on the phone) has lead to preachers becomes less skilled at reading people’s reactions when they preach.  Sermons are not as carefully composed as they once were because when we speak on the phone we say more words without the unity, order and movement we have when writing a letter. 

The points about reading and writing he makes are helpful but it’s chapter 4 where he really nails the reason why preaching is poor.  The problem he says is that the point of so many sermons isn’t worth making.  The focus of the sermon should be the person, character and work of Christ but this is absent in much of the preaching today.  This is something I need to continually remind myself as I prepare to preach, and his reference to Chapell’s ‘fallen-condition-focus’ is helpful in encouraging me to do this. 

But the situation is not hopeless and in final chapter he suggests things that preachers can do to improve their preaching.  There are ideas on how to improve your reading and writing, the encouragement to make time to reflect on what is significant and to have your sermons reviewed.  Ultimately though, the way to improve preaching is for preacher to exalt Christ from their pulpits. 

I would definitely recommend ‘Why Johnny Can’t Preach’.  He makes load of great points which are worth reflecting on further.  

Why Johnny Can’t Preach is available to buy HERE.  But before you go to Amazon, get in touch with Jonathan Carswell at and see if he can do you a good deal on it.

Tim Keller on Writing a Sermon

Tim Keller’s answer to the question ‘How do you write a sermon?’

“So, two weeks ahead I sit down with the text of the passage of the Bible I’m going to preach on and I spent about four hours figuring out what I think the outline of that text is, the meaning of the text, I need to look up what the commentators think about, maybe problematic verses, and I come up with an outline and a basic, you might say an exegesis or an exposition of the passage itself.  I write this up and I send it to my musicians, we’re going to be putting it in a bulletin and then they’re going to be choosing music for it.  I send it to other preachers who some of them are going to be preaching sermons on the same text.  Then, three days before, I sit down with this outline and I spend another four hours turning the bible study into a sermon and they’re not the same thing.  Bible study is more abstract, what does the text say.  The sermon is more life related, what does this mean to me.  So I spend four hours two weeks ahead on the text.  I spend four hours turning it into a life-related sermon and that’s usually on the Friday before.  And then on Saturday, I spend another six hours on it just trying to make it shorter, because it’s always too long and so I make it shorter, make it shorter, make it shorter, make it shorter.  So I spend about 14 to 16 hours a week writing a sermon and I spend all day preaching it because I speak four times on a Sunday.  And so I actually put in about 25 hours a week into producing and delivering one public speaking presentation before I do anything else in my job.”

(from Big Think)

Seven blessings of consecutive expository preaching

Seven blessings of consecutive expository preaching

  1. Consecutive expository preaching safeguards God’s agenda against being hijacked by ours.
  2. Consecutive expository preaching makes it harder for us to abuse the Bible by reading it out of context.
  3. Consecutive expository preaching dilutes the selectivity of the preacher.
  4. Consecutive expository preaching keeps the content of the sermon fresh and surprising.
  5. Consecutive expository preaching makes for variety in style.
  6. Consecutive expository preaching models good nourishing Bible reading for the ordinary Christian.
  7. Consecutive expository preaching helps us preach the whole Christ from the whole of Scripture.

 (Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching)

Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons (Christopher Ash)

Listening to a sermon is not simply turning up to church, staring at the preacher, then going home.  Listening to a sermon is much more than that as Christopher Ash’s little book ‘Listen Up!’ explains. 


Listen Up! is a practical guide to listening to sermons which by its price (£1.50), length (31 pages), presentation (colourful), and style (very easy to read) is accessible to all, from the youth group to the old people’s work. 

The majority of book looks at what Ash has called seven ingredients for healthy sermon listening (basically seven steps to listening to a sermon).  Each of the seven ingredients begins with an example of a person doing and not doing this step, an explanation of what it means and then some practical steps to take in order to do it.  

Ash then goes on to consider how to listen to bad sermons whether they be dull, biblically inadequate, or heretical before finishing with seven suggestions for encouraging good preaching. 

Throughout the book Ash reminds us that the reason we need to listen properly is so that through His Word, God will make us more and more like Christ.  That’s surely a reason to want to find out how to do this.  Or as Ash writes in the introduction that “the way we listen [to sermons] is a life or death business…it can damage your health or take you closer to final rescue.” 

This is a book for everyone in the congregation to read.  Why not make it the church’s book of month/term?  I think it would also be good to work through with young people especially those who say they are struggling with listening to the sermon. 

Listen Up! is available to buy HERE

Also check out the great deal on this book at HERE.

Seven ingredients for healthy sermon listening

Seven ingredients for healthy sermon listening: 

  1. Expect God to speak
  2. Admit God knows better than you
  3. Check the preacher says what the passage says
  4. Hear the sermon in church
  5. Be there week by week
  6. Do what the Bible says
  7. Do what the Bible says today – and rejoice! 

(Christopher Ash, Listen Up!)

Spurgeon on Paul’s books

A great section from Spurgeon’s sermon ‘Paul – his cloak and his books’ on 2 Timothy 4:13.  (HT: Justin Taylor)


“We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an apostle must read.  

Some of our very ultra Calvinistic brethren think that a minister who reads books and studies his sermon must be a very deplorable specimen of a preacher. A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men’s brains-oh! that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the apostle!  

He is inspired, and yet he wants books!  

He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books!  

He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!  

He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books!  

He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books!  

He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!  

The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, “Give thyself unto reading.” The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.  

Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books”-join in the cry.”


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