For many years now, it has been my practice to read a book on preaching once per year. Most people might think that, since I have been preaching for more than forty years and doing so fulltime for about twenty years, I ought to know how to do it by now. And the truth is, I learn very little from these books. But I still read them. I do so for two reasons.
First, I continue the practice of reading a book on preaching every year because I need to be reminded of what I once knew. I had excellent training in preaching. I took several communication classes. All were well taught. I took two preaching courses, one with Stafford North and another with Ron Beaver. These were excellent classes. If I remembered and practiced everything these men taught me, likely I would not need to read another book on the subject. But the fact is I do not remember it all, and I certainly fail to practice some of it. I do not learn much from the books I read on preaching, but I am reminded of many things that I have allowed to slip.
My second reason for continuing the practice is that, although I do not learn much, the little bit I gain is often of significant value. The book I am reading this year is called Preaching and Preachers. It is a series of lectures by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. So far I have learned only a couple of things from the book. Its greatest value has been the reminders I have received of what I already knew. But, there have been a couple of ideas that were new to me and they are highly valuable insights that I will put to use.
The books that I read on preaching are not inspired of God. Still, I can say without hesitation that my reading of them is highly valuable – even though I do not learn much that is new to me. Just imagine what might happen if one were to read the divinely inspired book continuously and attend classes regularly where it was being studied. Do you think such a person might be reminded of something that has been allowed to slip? Do you think that such a person might occasionally learn something new and valuable?
Why not give it a try? If it works for me in reading uninspired books, I am sure it will work for any Christian who gives it a fair effort with the Bible.