Occasionally I think back to my first preaching experiences as an immature, just saved 19 year old.
I went to Bible College 5 months after coming to Christ.
It was a live in, intensive 4 month course and every weekend we were sent to afflict, sorry bless, churches with our singing, testimonies and preaching.
I hate to think about the suffering I inflicted on those poor people who had innocently turned up to church expecting to hear something substantial from the word of God.
I was all heat and not much light.
Today, I’m a much better preacher and my improvement owes itself to a number of things including some excellent resources I’ve accumulated over the years.
Every tradesman needs good tools to do a good job and preachers are no different.
You need a variety of helpful tools that will become an essential part of your ministry. Here are my recommended preaching resources for pastors.
Invest In Study Tools
Over the years I have invested heavily in study tools and as I am a computer oriented studier, I have invested in digital books.
If you are just commencing in ministry I suggest that you take a similar approach.
The significant advantage of computer programs is that searching these books is easy and quick. I have given away most of my print books and focused exclusively on building a digital library.
I use and recommend Logos Bible Software as it is comprehensive and can be easily customized to your needs.
Logos is recommended by various people including this Grammy Award winning artist.
I also use Logos to delve into the original meaning of Hebrew and Greek words.
I love the Logos app and it for my daily devotional reading primarily because it places all my resources at my fingertips and allows me to add notes.
While I occasionally use a paper bible for devotional reading I prefer the ease of the Logos app.
If you find Logos too complex or expensive try other programs like PC Study Bible or for Mac users, Accordance.
Free online alternatives include Bible Gateway and Blue Letter Bible.
If you are more tactile in your approach and must have “real” books then I recommend you start with these basic tools:
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: a concordance is a basic tool for searching Scripture
The Lion Bible Handbook is really helpful for giving quick overviews of books of the Bible.
A one-volume commentary such as New Bible Commentary and a one-volume dictionary such as New Bible Dictionary are excellent starting points for building a library of essential resources.
As you build your library invest in excellent commentaries. Commentaries help you see other viewpoints, give you access to relevant scholarship and prevent you from preaching unfounded ideas. An excellent guide to commentaries is the Best Commentaries website. It’s brilliant.
I like Ben Witherington’s socio-rhetoric commentaries and anything by Jack Hayford. Both of these men have sound theology and are articulate in their expression.
Theology books are another important part of your toolkit.
IVP have some wonderful theology resources including the New Dictionary of Theology and the Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms which is a helpful little book.
Another essential element is Bible dictionaries. Again, IVP publishes an excellent series of dictionaries as does Zondervan.
How Do I Use These Resources
Basically I use Logos to help me search key words and dig into their original meaning.
As I formulate my own thoughts I turn to dictionaries and commentaries to enrich my understanding of the text as well grasp the historical context.
I also like to check my ‘revelation’ and see how it matches up with the wisdom of the ages that I find in my resources. I’ve lost count of the times that my books have added depth and scope to my preaching as well as preventing me from preaching out of ignorance about culture and context.
How Can I Afford All These Resources
When I was pastoring my church generously gave me an annual book allowance. The believed in providing preaching resources for pastors. Every year I would add commentaries or dictionaries to my collection.
Every church should give its pastor an allowance to allow them to build a substantial library over the course of time.