Review: Preaching that Connects, by Mark Galli and Craig Brian Larson

Subtitle: Using Journalistic Techniques to Add Impact


Both authors are journalistic editors (Christianity Today and respectively). Both are also preachers. They wrote this book to show how the skills of journalism can help the effectiveness of preaching.

The book is short, but a worthwhile read. A dozen brief chapters deal with the following subjects: the motivation of effective communication, creativity, introductions, sermon structure, illustration, story telling, language style, and conclusions. The goal in journalism is effective and captivating communication. What preacher does not desire to be effective and captivating?

As the foreword suggests, this book might only take a couple of hours to read, but there is potentially a lifetime of benefit.

3 thoughts on “Review: Preaching that Connects, by Mark Galli and Craig Brian Larson

  1. For anyone who wants to preach the Bible, this book should come with a warning.

    The book may be helpful in terms of teaching a set of communication techniques. Not having read this book, I can’t say but I take Peter’s review as a guide that the information on techniques of journalistic communication is useful.

    The warning is this. From other writings of Mark Galli, I would avoid reading him for any guidance on what the Bible says. For example, an article by him in Christianity Today (“Seeker Unfriendly – we need more than worship that makes sense”) inspired me to preach on the subject of Knowing God. (This made a follow-up to a message a couple of weeks earlier on The Dwellings Of God.) Mark Galli’s theme was that God is unknowable. He included a quote from the mystic Maester Eckhart that to know God is to know Him as unknowable. And the comment from Peterson that God’s reply to Moses, “I am who I am” was “truculent” comes across as the blasphemy of one who does not in fact know God at all.

    The infinity of God makes it impossible that we can fully know Him. But far from teaching us not to know God, the Bible is so full of the idea of knowing God that it is one way of describing the Believer. “Come brethren dear that know the Lord, That taste the sweets of Jesu’s word, In Jesu’s ways go on” may be an old and rarely sung Primitive Methodist hymn, but it fits this Biblical concept.

    By contrast with the Biblical encouragement to know God (however imperfectly finite man can know infinite God), Mark Galli’s article seems to be aimed at mysticism. In contrast to Biblical knowledge of God based on the propositional truth which God has revealed, and which we can understand rationally, mysticism is an eastern religious discipline aimed at union with the spirit world. This is achieved by setting aside the God-given “firewall” of our minds and understanding ; emptying our minds instead of filling them with Scripture ; and achieving altered states of consciousness and seing with the “inner eye”.

    For myself, preaching that connects is preaching which starts with the Bible and explains Scripture in a way that both feeds my spirit with the Word of God and satisfies the mind with rational and logical exposition. Preaching that bores is the mystical which Mark Galli’s article appears to encourage.

    Of course, we need to improve our skills as communicators. I am urging caution about from whom we learn, when the source is someone who appears to be amongst the promoters of mysticism or the “emerging church” which presents the Bible as a human book, not totally Theo-Pneustos, God-Breathed.


    (With thanks to George Verwer for e-mailing me the link to this blog)

  2. Thanks for the comment Robert. The book in question does not in any way explain how to understand the Bible. I do not know anything about Mark Galli, and since I have not read the article you refer to, I cannot comment. Craig Brian Larson is a man who is well-published and generally respected in the field of homiletics. It is important to be careful with any book we read (other than The Book, of course) and to be diligent to test everything against the Scriptures.

  3. Preaching that Connects is a book about communication not how to interpret and understand the Bible. So the warnings and all the alarm really is not warranted. The content of this book is great; it is a basic “refresher” of freshman English in connection with verbal communication.
    Do yourself a favor and read this book your congregation will love you for it.

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