How Sermons Work

David Murray, How Sermons Work (2011).

Murray’s book is good and well-thought-through advice for the preacher.  Much of his material borrows from other preaching literature, with constant quoting from his heroes.  Nevertheless I found it helpful.


“Archibald Alexander warned his students to take great care in preparing their introductions: ‘It is a great mistake to suppose that the introduction and application of a sermon require little study. Perhaps they require the exercise of invention and ingenuity more than any other part of a sermon.’ The significance of an introduction, especially for new or unconverted hearers, is hugely disproportionate to its length. As Sangster counselled, the first impression may be the only impression: ‘It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the beginning of the sermon. Most of our hearers give us their attention at the start. However convinced they may be that preaching is boring, hope springs eternal and the thought lingers in the mind of the most blasé that perhaps on this occasion something of the awful majesty and arresting power they would associate with a message from God may be evident in what the preacher has to say. If he does not take firm grip of their attention in the first few minutes, how can he hope to hold it to the end?’ (Kindle ebook, location 778 of 1837)

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