Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Review: Preaching Today

Website: http://www.preachingtoday.com/

Publisher: Preaching Today is a part of Christianity Today's online offerings.

Cost: $69.99 a year (or $9.95 a month); there is a 30-day free trial.

Offerings: 11,000+ sermon illustrations; almost 1000 sermons; 600+ articles/podcasts on improving your preaching; and more.

Leading contributors: Haddon Robinson, Mark Buchanan, John Ortberg, Leith Anderson, and a whole bunch of other evangelical pastors.  It does include a few sermons/articles from mainline pastors like Barbara Brown Taylor, Will Wilimon, and Fred Craddock.

My Thoughts: Obviously, there are plenty of free preaching resources out there on the web (some of which we'll cover soon).  My experience with many of them is that while helpful, they can be difficult to navigate and sometimes spotty in what they deliver.  I've even found that to be true with some of the pay sites.  Not so with Preaching Today.  Your $70, about the cost of two nice commentaries, gains you access to a well organized, easily searchable, treasure trove of preaching resources. 

By far, Preaching Today has the most expansive illustration database on the web.  It is easily searchable by keyword, subject, even biblical reference.  Now, as is always the case with illustrations gathered by others, many of the 11,000+ illustrations on Preaching Today will be illustrations that you will never use because they don't ring true to who you are or your style of preaching.  That's OK, many will.  And Preaching Today allows you to mark those that do resonate with you so that you begin to build your own file cabinet of illustrations within their system.

One especially rich source of illustrations on the site is to be found in the weekly "News that Illustrates" sections compiled by editor Craig Brian Larson.  In these short articles (which can be received as e-mails) Larson lists four or five news stories a week that might be rich sources of illustrations for upcoming sermons.  I like this section quite a bit because far from giving the preacher canned illustrations, the "News that Illustrates" section encourages the preacher to make his or her own connections between the sermon and current events in the world.  Surveying these over the past year or so have helped me to develop my own ability to read the news with an eye on the pulpit.

While my guess is that most ministers who subscribe to Preaching Today do so mainly for the illustrations, the best part of the site may very well be its articles.  Seasoned practitioners have provided a wealth of articles on every thing from the technicalities of the sermon to preparing the preacher's own soul.  Like the illustrations, the articles are easily searchable and often grouped together in ways that create an online workshop for the preacher to work through at his or her own pace.  It would take forever to work through all the articles, but reading two or three a month not only helps keep me constantly thinking about ways I can improve my preaching but also provides me with encouragement for the task.

Not everyone has $70 to invest in such a resource, but if you do, I recommend giving Preaching Today a try.

1 comment:

  1. Taylor thanks for doing the leg work on these online sites. I haven't used many of them because I am either 1. not aware of them or 2. frustrated by what I have seen online and just opt for books instead. It is nice to know there are some great resources on the web even if they have a cost fact involved.