Book: Preacher, Can You Hear Us Listening?

Roger Van Harn. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005. 159 pages. $15.00

This book is good medicine for preachers and pew sitters alike. Do not be fooled: the title may give the impression that the book is aimed at preachers. But Van Harn is also keen on helping sermon listeners improve their hearing of the Word preached. A preacher himself, Van Harn knows the laborious process of sermon making and the challenges that come with delivering the Word. But he is also a skillful listener, asking thoughtful questions as he examines the relationship between preaching and hearing the Word of God.

Probing questions in the form of chapter titles like “Why Should We Listen to Sermons?” “How Can We Hear with All That Noise?” and “Will You Come and Listen with Us?” help the reader to ponder the dynamics of pulpit communication and pew reception. Preachers can help the congregation to listen by coming to grips with the biblical notion that faith comes from hearing. What is central: preaching or hearing? “Faith comes from hearing,” observes the author, “and hearing is the center of the church’s mission” (p. 13). This is the book’s foundational premise, leading to congregational vitality in worship and faith. The remaining chapters further develop this premise and provide nutrients and vitamins that sustain and lead to good listening and preaching.

Start-up ministers and seasoned pastors all need periodic checkups to ponder the effectiveness of their preaching. And thoughtful, regular worshipers need guidance in their responses and reactions to hearing their pastor’s sermons. To the health of the church!

Jack Van Marion is pastor of Calvary Christian Reformed Church, Edina, Minnesota.


Reformed Worship 78 © December 2005 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.