Working Preacher Books

A series of compelling, timely books on biblical preaching. Luther Seminary and Fortress Press have launched a book series called Working Preacher Books.

We believe that God uses good preaching to change lives. Our books help preachers make the Bible come alive every time they preach.

Book cover for "Real People, Real Faith" by Cindy Halvorson

Real People, Real Faith

By Cindy Halvorson

Real People, Real Faith provides practical tools to portray biblical characters as multidimensional human beings who encountered and journeyed with God. Placing high value on historical, cultural, and scriptural contexts, Cindy Halvorson demonstrates techniques for generating holistic characters, particularly by exploring archetypical human reactions and spiritual longings. She shows how the preacher can use this method to reimagine the biblical characters, present figures with whom listeners relate and empathize, and draw portraits of real people whose relationship with God is in many ways like listeners’ own—people with whom they may sojourn and grow.

When listeners are touched by a biblical character’s story and shown how their relationship with God was transformed, they too may experience the Divine’s love and care for them.

Publication date: February 15, 2022

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Book cover: Honest to God Preaching by Brent A. Strawn

Honest to God Preaching

By Brent A. Strawn

Brent A. Strawn focuses on the importance of honesty in preaching, especially around three challenging Old Testament themes: sin, suffering, and violence.

Without honesty regarding these topics, there is no way forward to reconciliation, health, and recovery.

Strawn frames these themes specifically for working preachers, so they can create sermons that speak to these thorny themes with depth and clarity.

“Strawn is one of our most fruitful, astute, honest interpreters of Scripture. Strawn and his Old Testament friends shake our preconceptions, rattle our cages, and boldly speak to subjects that often dumbfound the contemporary church.”
– Will Willimon, Duke Divinity School

Publication date: December 7, 2021

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Book cover: The Peoples' Sermon by Shauna Hannan

The Peoples’ Sermon

By Shauna K. Hannan

In The Peoples’ Sermon, Shauna K. Hannan argues that it is no longer faithful for a preacher to craft a sermon in isolation, step into “the pulpit” (literally or metaphorically) on Sunday morning, offer a one-sided monologue, and on Monday start all over, alone, with the process of researching and writing in preparation for the following Sunday.

The Peoples’ Sermon dares to suggest that preaching is most faithful when it is collaborative. Pastors do not own the pulpit; they steward it.

“Hannan provides a way for congregations not only to find their voices in the ministry of preaching but also to be drawn deeper into the ministry of Christ. A splendid contribution.”
– Thomas G. Long, Candler School of Theology

Publication date: November 9, 2021

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Book cover: Preaching the Headlines by Lisa L. Thompson

Preaching the Headlines

By Lisa L. Thompson

Preaching the Headlines reframes preaching as an ongoing conversation between the modern world and the world of the biblical text. Preachers use what they know about life as a bridge to the text, while life in the text provides the bridge back to faith in the contemporary world. The goal of the book is to provide a process to aid preachers in doing theological reflection on the everyday world as an integral part of sermon development.

This book is a must-read for those who think preaching the gospel matters in a world where it too often seems like ‘God is not.'”
– Kelly Brown Douglas, Union Theological Seminary

Publication date: August 31, 2021

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Book cover: Writing for the Ear, Preaching from the Heart by Donna Giver-Johnston

Writing for the Ear, Preaching from the Heart

By Donna Giver-Johnston

In Writing for the Ear, Preaching from the HeartDonna Giver-Johnston teaches preachers how to communicate effectively—how to get away from their notes and make a more personal connection with their listeners. Grounded in a theology of the incarnation, she offers a step-by-step method for writing sermons with the fewest, most impactful and memorable words and delivered by heart to communicate a message that captures the ears and hearts of listeners.

“Giver-Johnston reveals her own heart for human need, her own ear for the cries of the suffering, her own capacity for lament over fractures in our society , and her own tenacious hope in the healing power of the gospel.”
– Thomas G. Long, Candler School of Theology

Publication date: August 10, 2021

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Preaching Jeremiah by Walter Brueggemann
The fifth book in the Working Preacher Books series.

Preaching Jeremiah

By Walter Brueggemann

In this book, Walter Brueggemann conducts in an experiment in homiletics. He wants us to wrestle with the question: What if we allow the canonical shape of the book of Jeremiah to instruct us concerning the shape and trajectory of the sermon? The preaching task requires honesty about what God requires and a clear proclamation of what God has done and will yet do.

Publication date: November 3, 2020

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A Lay Preacher’s Guide

by Karoline Lewis

In A Lay Preacher’s Guide: How to Craft a Faithful Sermon, Karoline M. Lewis provides lay preachers with an essential and accessible guide to the basics of Sunday-morning preaching. In this go-to resource for lay preachers, Lewis lays out in a concise and clear format the steps to preaching a faithful sermon, a process that can be immediately applied to weekly sermon preparation.

Publication date: May 5, 2020

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The Gospel People Don’t Want to Hear

by Lisa Cressman

Lisa Cressman, founder of Backstory Preaching, provides tools to craft difficult sermon messages that can be heard. Part 1 focuses on the preacher’s preparation, the building of mutual trust with listeners, and the authority needed to proclaim the gospel with empathy, compassion, and skill. Part 2 focuses on the sermon itself with practical suggestions on what to say and how to say it.

Publication date: May 5, 2020

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Leading with the Sermon

by William H. Willimon

Prolific author William H. Willimon makes the compelling case that two key pastoral tasks—preaching and leadership—complement, correct, strengthen, and inform one another. Preaching is the distinctive function of pastoral leaders. Leadership of the church, particularly during a challenging time of transition in mainline Protestantism, has become a pressing concern for pastors. This book shows how the practices, skills, and intentions of Christian preaching can be helpful to the leadership of a congregation.

Publication date: Feb. 4, 2020

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Preaching from the Old Testament

by Walter Brueggemann

In this new volume, prolific scholar Walter Brueggemann seeks to show Christian preachers how to consider the faith witnessed in several Old Testament traditions and to help them discover rich and suggestive connections to our contemporary faith challenges. The author also assumes that a wholesale sustained engagement with the Old Testament is worth the effort for the preacher. He recognizes what he calls the “sorry state” of Old Testament texts in the Revised Common Lectionary, which he claims often constitute a major disservice for the church and its preachers. The lectionary gerrymanders the Old Testament to make it serve other claims, most of the time not allowing it to have its own evangelical say. Brueggemann hopes that his exposition in this volume will evoke and energize fresh homiletical attention to the Old Testament, precisely because he believes the urgent work of the gospel in our society requires attentive listening to these ancient voices of bold insistent faith.

“I read Walter Brueggemann and it makes me want to preach.”
– Jason Byassee, Vancouver School of Theology

Publication date: May 17, 2019

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