Book Review: The Christ-Centered Expositor
Soon I plan to share my process for sermon preparation, along with how I utilize fountain pens in it. Before I get there, however, I’ll share and review two books that I’ve found especially helpful for that prep. The first is Tony Merida’s The Christ-Centered Expositor: A Field Guide for Word-Driven Disciple Makers. We’ve used his original book, Faithful Preaching, for a number of years to train preachers in our church. I highly recommend it as a resource to help you and others around you grow in your understanding of, and practice of, gospel preaching.
In the first section of the book, Merida looks at the “expositor’s heart.” Before he begins to teach us about what makes a biblically faithfully sermon, he describes characteristics of a biblically faithful preacher. Part one is helpful. However, I want to focus on part two, where Merida lays out his “five steps” for building faithful messages.
In step one, “study the text,” the faithful preacher prayerfully lingers in the passage, laboring to discern the author’s intended meaning, utilizing available resources along the way. In step two, he seeks to “unify the redemptive theme.” This is Merida’s way of communicating two critical aspects of the task: first, discerning the “big idea,” or main point, of the sermon, and second, making sure that big idea proclaims the good news of the gospel. The preacher’s goal, the author explains, is to determine what he calls an MPS, the main point of the sermon, that will serve to give shape and focus to the message. In step three, a faithful preacher begins to “construct an outline,” a frame that reflects the passage and supports that main point.
In step four, the expositor turns to “develop the functional elements.” What are those? You explain the text. You apply the text. You illustrate the text. You begin to put meat on the skeleton. Merida helps the preacher turn a main point and outline into a complete sermon. In step five, the preacher then works to “add an introduction and conclusion." Merida argues that this is best done at the end, when there’s a completed message to introduce and conclude. In The Christ-Centered Expositor, Merida presents five helpful steps that walk preachers through the process of preparing a sermon. This has been invaluable for my preaching and training of preachers.
Merida gives a great introduction to preaching. His title reflects his twin emphases. Preachers should be expositors. They must faithfully preach the main point of a passage. From that passage, a faithful preacher centers on Christ. It’s essential he preaches the gospel. I consider Merida’s book a more accessible version of Chapell’s Christ-Centered Preaching. The Christ-Centered Expositor: A Field Guide for Word-Driven Disciple Makers serves as a great introduction for either the seminary student or the layperson desiring to learn to preach God’s word.
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