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EFAC Australia

Book Reviews

Book Review: Why Men Hate Going to Church

David Murrow, Nelson Books, 2005

I happened on this publication in the men's literature section of my local Christian bookstore, which many of you will know is very small compared with the women's section of the bookshelves. The title sounds a bit provocative and the contents challenge many of our notions of "Church". Nevertheless it's a valuable document if you're looking to connect with men in and around your church.

David Murrow has the advantage of a layman's perspective and he claims to have worshipped in congregations of "every stripe". His broad observations and pointers square with many of my own experiences in working among men in the church context over 25 years or more. His observations start with the obvious, i.e. churches have a male attendance averaging only 35%. In other words women outnumber men almost two to one. This is in line with the Anglican community in the Melbourne Diocese according to the 2006 National Church Life Survey.

Book Review: The Word of His Grace: A guide to teaching and preaching from Acts

By Chris Green. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 2005, 978-84474-075-7,189pp., $A19.99, paper.

Many factors conspire against creating and sustaining an evangelistic culture in our Christian communities. In my experience, one of the key antidotes is the regular preaching and teaching of Acts. To this end, Chris Green, Vice-Principal of Oak Hill College in London has written an overview of the book specifically for the preacher, and this serves as a very helpful foundational tool.

This book is not a commentary. Green begins by outlining key principles for understanding Acts in toto, then in Section 2 breaks the book into 7 "panels", examining in more detail the themes conveyed. A particular strength in these two sections is Green's outlining of Luke's careful narrative structure, and the various narrative devices he uses, such as parallelism, escalation and contrast. Green is keen to show that Luke has not simply written a chronology, but has carefully structured his account with theological purpose. This exposes and highlights key truths and helps answer some of the recurring theological and pastoral issues raised by the book.

Review: Al Stewart's MEN – firing through all of life (Blue Bottle Books, 2007)

by Doug Petering

 

The latest 2006 National Church Life Survey confirms that Church as a whole finds it really difficult to connect with unchurched men. This volume suggests solutions and speaks to real needs of Aussie men in their middle years.

Al Stewart, the forty-something bishop of Wollongong, speaks refreshingly from the midst of his own challenges. His passion for presenting the Gospel to the men of his generation sits easily alongside his love of wild pig shooting in the outback with his mates, while trying to keep his aging body in shape at the gym and training for half marathons.

The thesis of this book comes from Henry David Thoreau's 150 year old diagnosis: "The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation." Stewart reflects, "If he was right 150 years ago… it's surely even truer today. Why does this happen to us? Does it have to be this way? Are there any answers?" It coincides with my own observations of many men in mid life who appear to be on a treadmill where the slope seems to get steeper with every passing year.

The Annual Preaching Survey of the Year's Best Books

This is an edited version of the original article which may be access from www.preaching.com/resources/features/11569918/#

Reprinted with permission from Preaching magazine, March-April 2008. Copyright © 2008 Salem Communications. All rights reserved. For more information visit www.preaching.com. The website and magazine is an excellent resource!

Preaching is intimately related to books and study, and this goes all the way back to biblical times. Preachers and books simply go together, and the most powerful combination of preacher and book comes when just the right book is available at just the right time in order to clarify and focus the preacher's thoughts on the biblical text and the challenge of preaching.

Biblical Studies

If preachers are integrally tied to the study of books, this is especially true when it comes to books helpful in Bible study for the preparation of expository messages. Over the past several decades, something of a renaissance in evangelical biblical scholarship has occurred, and we are now in a season of publication with many of the most mature biblical scholars reaching the point of maximum scholarly production.

"Please! No more boring sermons"

Book Review by Peter Brain

Editor Keith Weller Acorn Press 2007

This book will prove to be a very practical help for preachers. Its strength lays not so much in its express purpose of no more boring sermons but the clear conviction of each of its ten contributors that Biblical preaching is essential to God's purposes.

The first two thirds of the book contain eleven articles covering the importance of preaching, its character, preparation, its orality and sound, preaching and liturgy, preaching the Old Testament narrative, series, occasional and evangelistic preaching.

These are thoughtfully developed by eight experienced practitioners including now retired veterans like Harry Goodhew, David Williams, Keith Rayner and John Chapman along with those who teach and train new preachers, Peter Adam, Adrian Lane and Robin Payne and from the busy and experienced Vicar of St. Judes, Carlton, Richard Condie.

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