A man feels an internal call to the ministry. The congregation and leadership at the church where he serves affirms it. He goes and gets the necessary training to become a pastor. Yet, as he grows in his knowing, he begins to prepare messages that are meant to simply inform hearers of what God’s Word says. He believes that is his task: to show God’s people what God’s Word means. While that is true, it does not complete the entirety of what a sermon should bring. There needs to be a call to life change, a call to persuasion. It is for that very reason R. Larry Overstreet has written Persuasive Preaching: A Biblical and Practical Guide to the Effective Use of Persuasion. He looks at the issues facing persuasive preaching, the biblical support for it, the structures of such messages, and the application to it all.
In order to be fair, I think it is best to look at some good points first and then at a few critiques. I thoroughly appreciated Overstreet’s handling of pointing out the characteristics faced in persuasive preaching (pages 16-19). The age of postmodernism has caused problems for people in preaching so it is good that this books reveals their characteristics. Another thing I am grateful to Overstreet for is his emphasis on the character of the preacher (page 89). While the message is central, persuasion does include whether the preacher is living out what he is speaking. What may be the most edifying chapter, however, is chapter 13. It touches on the Holy Spirit and His role in preaching (beginning on page 171). Not too many preaching books devote a chapter to this topic so it is encouraging to see Overstreet does.
With all this commendation, though, there are a few critiques to make. Much of this is due to the fact of who the target audience is. In this book, R. Larry Overstreet tends to write with a very academic style which may cause some to stop reading if it becomes too complex. If one does not know Greek at all, they may have trouble reading some sections and some chapters. Also, if you are not in need of being convinced persuasion has a place in preaching, you will be tempted to skim over the first four chapters. Honestly, while I understand the importance of showing from Scripture why we call for a response in preaching, the first four chapters could have been summarized in a shorter form.
With all this, I would recommend Persuasive Preaching to those who have appreciation for academic writing and who have some knowledge of the Greek (and Hebrew). Otherwise, you may not find great interest in gain from reading for other than a few good takeaways.
I received this book for free from Weaver Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.