Friday, April 19, 2013

Saving Eutychus - Review

I’ve just finished reading Phil Campbell and Gary Millar’s book Saving Eutychus. It’s an excellent book. Easy to read, engaging, and more useful than any book on preaching I’ve encountered before. I think it should be compulsory reading for, well, everyone.

The great strength of this book is that it’s realistic about the fact that most preachers aren’t naturally all that great. The default is to be boring. It’s hard to find the big idea of a passage. Then it’s hard to craft a sermon around that big idea. It’s hard to maintain a clear chain of logic. It’s hard to script your talk so that it sounds like normal spoken language rather than an essay. It’s hard to deliver a talk in an energetic and engaging way. And it’s hard to move people’s hearts. Gary and Phil admit that for them, preaching well is an ongoing struggle. They give other preachers permission to admit that their own current efforts might not be all that successful. And they show them how to improve.

Here are 5 thoughts I’ve had after finishing this book.

  1. The preaching skills taught in Saving Eutychus are equally applicable to giving good kids talk. A strong big idea that captures what the passage is saying. Logical progression. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Stories told in present tense. Varying pitch, pacing and volume to give ‘zing’ to the delivery... I’ll certainly be passing this book around to those involved in kids ministry.  Similarly to youth leaders and bible study group leaders and ...
  2. I think women should be reading this book. Even if you only preach once a year, show kindness to your audiences and read this book.  A lot of us have trouble assessing our own scripts. Saving Eutychus gives a really useful talk analysis sheet. We should use it ourselves and then get friends to use it on our talks before we inflict them on crowds.
  3. As a regular online sermon listener, I appreciated the warnings about being self indulgent and preaching your own ideas rather than what the passage is actually saying.
  4. I like Phil and Gary’s line that if your congregation isn’t with you when you preach (because they are sleeping or counting the bricks) then it’s your preaching that’s at fault. No point blaming the congregation. It is hard to listen to boring stuff. Being a woman I usually give talks at craft evenings or events when the preaching isn’t the draw. It’s no use for me to feel cross if the women are more interested in their gingerbread house than the bible. My talk needs to distract them from their gingerbread house!
  5. The magic of this book is that Phil and Gary manage to confront the preacher with his/her preaching inadequacies in a way that isn’t disabling. The reader isn’t confronted by a Big Preacher Man With His Stuff Together telling everyone else how to be as grand as him. It’s not like that.    Phil and Gary give practical tools that will make anyone a better preacher. The skills in this book will take many ministers from ‘not good enough’ to ‘good enough’, and many more from ‘good enough’ to ‘good’.
This book will be released in Australia really soon. We'll be buying 10 copies and giving them to everyone we know.


  1. Yes, I'm looking forward to getting a copy and reading it, given the long lead up and reviews and all sorts of build up.

  2. I’m searching for top Amazon books and I landed here. Anyway, if you are really interested and enjoying listening God’s word then you will not fall asleep. I will search for more reviews of this book. Thanks!