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Author/Minister gives home-run tips for relief preachers


Zach Sewell. A Time to Preach: Preaching Occasionally or on a Fill-In Basis. Amazon Digital, 2018. 103 pages.

Zach Sewell. A Time to Preach: Preaching Occasionally or on a Fill-In Basis. Amazon Digital, 2018. 103 pages.

Those who preach every Sunday develop practices that support the demands of this rigorous weekly rhythm.

For those who preach on an occasional basis, however, completely different practices are needed.

In A Time to Preach: Preaching Occasionally or on a Fill-in Basis,” Zach Sewell uses the metaphor of the relief pitcher on a baseball team to articulate both the methods and the motivation necessary to seize the opportunity of the occasional sermon as a valuable component of congregational life.

“Relief pitchers are very good pitchers,” writes Sewell, minister to young adults/involvement minister for the Overland Park Church of Christ in Kansas. “There are multiple pitchers in a bullpen. No two throw exactly the same way.” For fill-in preachers, “it’s likely that the church is asking you to preach for a particular reason. It could be that people respect you and listen to you … you’re funny but know when to be serious, you have in-depth perspective on biblical texts, etc. Don’t discount the fact that someone or some group’s wisdom led them to you as the right preacher to fill in now.”

Filled with practical tips and sound advice, this small book is a valuable resource for anyone who may have the inclination or opportunity to preach a sermon.

Sewell’s discussions range from the advantages of occasional preaching for the church to the potential hazards unique to occasional preaching and finally to the nuts and bolts of sermon preparation for the occasional preacher, taking the guesswork out of preparation and providing an easily accessible road map from initial idea to sermon delivery.

Amy Bost Henegar

There are many roads to the pulpit. Some people are natural public speakers, so preaching is an easy extension of their gifts and experience. Others are more reluctant, encouraged by mentors and teachers to give preaching a try. Still others feel nudged by the Holy Spirit of the living God, calling them to step forward and attempt the daunting task of articulating the hope of the Gospel in the context of public worship.

Whichever path leads you to the pulpit, “A Time to Preach” will be a trusted companion for the journey.

AMY BOST HENEGAR is associate minister for spiritual enrichment for the Manhattan Church of Christ. She blogs at amybosthenegar.com.

Filed under: book review Features Opinion preaching Reviews Top Stories

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