Book Review: Feed My Sheep
From the first days of the Protestant Reformation, when the reformers began studying the scriptures for the essential signs of a true church, the most fundamental of the signs was only this: the true preaching of the word. In fact, according to Luther, â€œEven if there were no other sign than this alone, it would still suffice to prove that a Christian, holy people must exist there, for God's Word cannot be without God's people and, conversely, God's people cannot be without God's Wordâ€ (quoted on the first page of Feed My Sheep). In other words, the preaching of the bible is central, foundational, and vital to the functioning of any local church. But in modern American Evangelicalism, there is a staggering deficiency in this area. The place of preaching is often marginalized, and the character of preaching is frequently lackluster and inadequate. Because of these two things, the need for a passionate plea for preaching, from faithful pastors who passionately preach, is desperate. This new edition of Feed My Sheep could not come at a more opportune time. It delivers a message that is eminently needed.
Feed My Sheep is written by a team of eleven contributors, each of whom has demonstrated a definite commitment to the centrality of expositional preaching. There are, of course, other books written by various contributors, some of which have turned out well and some a little disjointed and incoherent. But if there were ever a subject made for this approach, it is the subject of this book: not only do you get a competent coverage of various aspects of biblical preaching, you also get a glimpse into the hearts of a few faithful men of God, who have devoted their lives to passionate preaching. Just as these preachers would argue that a sermon must both teach and appeal, instruct and exhort, so this book does the same: it conveys information, but in and through that information, it inspires. It is genuine, passionate, and heartfelt everywhere, although in a different way and through a different personality with each new chapter.
Although every chapter could be highlighted, I will mention only a few in particular: R Albert Mohler Jr.'s chapter on the primacy of preaching establishes the basic proposition of the book very clearly and fervently. The late James Montgomery Boice has provided some excellent thoughts on Paul's famous phrase â€œthe foolishness of preaching,â€ which may help clarify some common misunderstandings. Joel R. Beeke's chapter on experiential preaching is absolute must-reading, as is Eric J. Alexander's brief chapter on evangelistic preaching. But if I had to choose the one most essential, inspiring, helpful, and perspective-altering chapter of the entire book, it would have to be John Piper's chapter on preaching to suffering people. Even if you are not a preacher, you will doubtless benefit much from this chapter; and if you are a preacher, do not do yourself the great wrong of passing it by! It is full of the most godly, practical wisdom for how to carry on your ministry in a Christ-like way, perhaps the first brief article on the ministry of the preacher to which I would point any prospective minister (or if second, second only to Jonathan Edwards' sermon entitled â€œChrist the Example of Ministersâ€).
To conclude, Feed My Sheep is a book with a message that is both true and important, and also greatly needed at this particular point in time. And it is not just a book with necessary information, it is a book that will encourage and inspire even while it reasons and instructs. It would doubtless be of benefit to any believer; but for a preacher, the benefits are too great to pass by. I would be pleased if every preacher in America (and beyond) possessed a well-worn copy.
Available at Monergism Books.