In the fall of 2020, I took a course in Creative Biblical Preaching at Lincoln Christian University. One of our assignments was to create an annotated bibliography for creative biblical preaching. There was too much good stuff here not to share. Hopefully, you’ll find some of this useful.
Christensen, Tanner. The Creativity Challenge. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2015.
Flip to a page, follow the instructions, unleash your creativity. The Creativity Challenge is a book of 150 challenges, exercises, and prompts designed to help the reader (user) find their “AHA!” moment and break out of the doldrums.
Craddock, Fred B. As One Without Authority. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987.
Craddock’s seminal work focuses on the inductive method of preaching as key to holding the audience’s attention. This is a great book to begin with when growing your preaching.
Gallo, Carmine. Talk Like TED. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2014.
TED Talks have changed the cadence of how we share information. Gallo’s book leads the reader through nine hallmarks of TED Talks that promote engagement with the audience and enable the speaker to deliver his message with more confidence and authority.
Extra: Why You Should Preach Like Ted. An article I wrote after reading Gallo’s book.
Greidanus, Sidney. The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature. Grand Rapids: Inter-Varsity Press, 1988.
The back cover describes this book as “a fusion of biblical hermeneutics and homiletics.” I value this book for its genre-by-genre guide to preaching scripture. Do not miss the usefulness of the Scripture Index in the back. I’ve found some gems for troublesome passages there.
Kim, Matthew D. Preaching with Cultural Intelligence: Understanding the People Who Hear Our Sermons. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017.
“Preachers in the twenty-first century require, as John Stott puts it, the dexterities to stand ‘between two worlds’ and engage the world of the Bible and the world of today. This book is an attempt to put additional flesh on Stott’s original skeleton for preaching as bridge-building” (page 3).
I found making my way through Kim’s book to be brutal. It’s broad in topic but repetitive in application. Still, I learned a lot about hearing the cultural needs of the audience and hearing the needs of the preacher in communicating. The chapter on Exegeting the Preacher was convicting and a little haunting. I think we would all do well to take a close look at ourselves, as Kim suggests.
Millar, Gary, and Campbell, Phil. Saving Eutychus: How to Preach God’s Word and Keep People Awake. Kingsford, Australia: Matthias Media, 2013.
This is a quick and engaging read on how to be a more engaging preacher. Millar and Campbell share a passion for preaching and recognize their similarities in approach as well as their differences. I found “Phil’s Top Ten Tips Checklist” to be especially helpful.
This was easily my favorite book I read on creative biblical preaching.
Miller, Calvin. The Sermon Maker: Tales of a Transformed Preacher. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.
I do not care for the format of this book. The right-hand pages contain three stories about Pastor Sam and his struggles with his preaching. The pages on the left are Miller’s notations from the sources he used to craft the stories. I found the notations to be much more valuable than the stories. There is a lot of good advice from a master storyteller and preacher, but the reader will need to make some adjustments to their reading habits to gain from them.
Robinson, Haddon W., and Robinson, Torrey W. It’s All in How You Tell It: Preaching First-Person Expository Messages. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003.
It’s All in How You Tell It is a short read with plenty of insights for first-person narrative sermons. Chapters are well organized and easily accessed. The real strength of the book might be the appendices with their sample sermons and Robinson’s own bibliography of resources for first-person sermons (I should have just stolen his instead of writing my own).
Stanley, Andy, and Jones, Ronald Lane. Communicating for a Change. New York: Multnomah Books, 2006.
Stanley and Jones outline their method of not only drawing listeners into the sermon but including them in the story.
Confession time: I’m not a huge fan of Stanley’s preaching. However, this book helped me appreciate his method and goals. If you’re looking for an explanation of Stanley’s “Me – We – God – We – You” outlining method, this is the book you want.
Sweet, Leonard. The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living with a Grande Passion. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook, 2007.
While the book is not exactly about creative biblical preaching, it does contain one of the best outlines and explanations of Sweet’s EPIC (Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich, Connective) principle, which I believe is a useful guide for creativity in sermon writing.
Buttrick, David. “Chapter 2: Speaking in Moves,” in Homiletic Moves and Structures, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987.
Every once in a while, I review chapter 2 to remind myself that conversation moves in sequence, not points–sermons should too.
Jones, J. K. “Chapter 6: Letting the Text Win in a Sentence,” in Letting the Text Win, J. K. Jones and Mark Scott, 95-104. Joplin: College Press, 2014.
While the whole book is an excellent guide for sermon writing, I find myself often returning to this chapter for quick inspiration for organizing a sermon thesis. The examples are well-written and helpful in formulating the key idea (Sermonic Dominant Thought) for my messages.
Sebring, Lane. “Chapter 4: Every Sermon Needs a Job, Putting Your Sermon to Work,” in Preaching Killer Sermons, Centreville, VA: PreachingDonkey, 2016.
The whole book is good, but chapter 4 is an excellent reminder that sermons have objectives. We need to ask ourselves, “What is my desired response to this sermon?”
ChurchLeaders. Outreach Media Group, accessed September 28, 2020.
Plenty of articles and podcasts on a wide variety of topics. You do need to wade through this one carefully, though. Much of it feels like advertisements for resources they’re selling. My advice is, rather than going to their website, follow them on Facebook and let them come to you.
Homiletix. Kuruvilla, Abraham, accessed March 11, 2021.
I find Kuruvilla to be a fascinating individual. An ethnic Indian, trained in medicine, who somehow became a preacher in Texas! What kind of Macedonian plea lead to that?!?!
Kuruvilla has several books to his name, including A Manual for Preaching, which I’ll get around to reading soon. His blog is well-written and entertaining. He also has the most entertaining Amazon author profile I’ve ever read!
Preaching Today. Christianity Today, accessed September 28, 2020.
Filled with illustrations, featured sermons, and podcasts, there is much to be gleaned here. Most of it is well-organized, and it is updated regularly.
Still, I miss the simplicity of the old “tape of the month club.”
Sermon Central. Colorado Springs: Outreach Web Properties, accessed September 28, 2020.
This is never my “go-to” website for sermon help; it’s more of a “Hail Mary,” last-ditch search for an illustration or help with a text. More often than not, it serves to spark a memory or idea and gets me going in illustrating a point
Upload a few sermons and get a free contributor account. Just don’t expect too much for free.
Miller, Andy J. Creative Pep Talk. Podcast audio.
Andy J. Miller (better known as Andy J. Pizza) is a full-time freelance illustrator who has worked with clients as vast and varied as Nickelodeon, Google, Converse, Nutella, Bloomberg, and Sony. In his short, high-energy podcasts, Andy channels his struggles and successes into a shot in the arm for any creative who is frustrated and in need of encouragement to keep going. I have yet to hear Andy, or any of his guests, discuss creative biblical preaching, but I never fail to come away with the pep talk I need to infuse my sermon with a little more creativity.
Monday Morning Preacher. Podcast audio.
This podcast is a production of Preaching Today. Each episode (approximately half an hour) focuses on different aspects of preaching and encourages preachers to grow in their craft. They’re an excellent way to begin the week as you approach the text seeking a fresh set of eyes.
Preaching Points. Podcast audio.
This podcast is a production of the Center for Preaching at Gordon-Connell Theological Seminary. These short podcasts (usually 5-7 minutes long) offer encouragement on creativity and new perspectives on preaching from many of the leading homileticians of our day (as well as a few from the past). I find them the perfect companion for a few minutes of downtime, and always come away encouraged to try something new.
Sweet, Leonard. Napkin Scribbles: A Podcast by Leonard Sweet. Podcast audio.
Sometimes Sweet is best in small doses. Sweet’s strength seems to be in illustration and new perspectives, and these short podcasts offer just that. Napkin Scribbles often feels more like a stream of consciousness podcast, with Sweet simply rambling unedited with a new thought each episode. I find it ironic that the episodes are often literally phoned in.
Why am I recommending this one? Well, they’re short, and I do manage to learn something from them. They’re not all winners, but you can hardly complain about the length or the price.
The Hills Church, Fort Worth, Texas. Podcast audio.
The sermons from Taylor Walling and Rick Atchley are well-written and engaging. I enjoy the forms their series take and how well organized they are.
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: The Definitive Collection. DVD. Created by The Jim Henson Company. Culver City, California: Sony Pictures, 2003.
Ok, this has nothing to do with creative biblical preaching . . . or does it? Maybe if we listen closely.
Originally produced in the late 80s and early 90s, this short-lived television series featured John Hurt as the titular Storyteller. Watching them, I find myself quickly drawn in through Hurt’s storytelling ability. His voice and manner are engaging, and Brian Henson, as the voice of his dog, is the perfect foil for Hurt and speaks (barks) for the audience. I have always felt that watching these videos would be an excellent exercise for a preaching class.