I am a pastor. I am a preacher. I know what it is like to stand before a congregation every week and deliver a message that is timely, biblical, and interesting. I understand what it is like to struggle with a text all week wondering how it will all come together. I know what it is like to go through the post-sermon ritual of the preaching version of 20 Questions. “How did it sound?” “Was I faithful to the text?” “Was it too long?” “Did I talk too fast?” “Did I give an avenue for application?” I just finished a book entitled, “Saving Eutychus; How to Preach God’s Word and Keep People Awake” by pastors Gary Millar and Phil Campbell. This very clever title comes from the biblical account of Acts 20 as a young man names Eutychus fell asleep while Paul was preaching and fell out of a window. The premise of Millar and Campbell’s book is the prevention of such an episode in the modern church today.
Calling on their years of preaching experience, the authors set out to reveal the traps, pitfalls, and errors that lead to boring and dull preaching. Millar and Campbell write about the importance of prayer’s role in effective and stimulating preaching. The authors also do a great job of stressing the need to preach to the heart of people for real change instead of merely preaching a form of holy manipulation. Chapter three, four, and five are the best in the book. Here the authors deal with the importance of being clear in your presentation and taking into account the attention span of the listener. Millar and Campbell offer a very helpful top ten list of steps to becoming clearer in your presentation. They also stress the importance of allowing the sermon to be wrapped around a main “big” idea. They write, “It’s easier for your listener to catch a baseball than a handful of sand.” The chapter dealing with preaching the gospel from the Old Testament is well written and enlightening. The authors provide methods to better understand Old Testament contexts, audiences, and nuances so that a clear picture of Jesus Christ can be painted. Millar and Campbell wrap up with the importance of and real need for feedback and critique of the sermon. They provide sample critiques of each other’s sermons as a teaching point.
Saving Eutychus is a great work. It is simple, yet profound. It is deep without reading like a seminary textbook. It is honest, humorous, refreshing, and convicting all at the same time. I know as a pastor/preacher I am always searching for that which will help me fulfill my calling. I am taking away a great deal from this book. Their points dealing with preparation, tone, pitch, and length were what I needed. I would recommend this book to all of my pastor/preacher friends. Saving Eutychus brings a great awareness and insight to our calling.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Cross Focused Reviews as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”