This book contains sermons that were preached during times of great distress. Some of the sermons deal with 9-11, abortion, child abuse, the death of a baby, suicide, murder, cancer, a special needs person, and the death of a leader. Some of the sermons and ideas are helpful to draw ideas from. Others are short and shallow. I greatly appreciated the author's comments before each sermon. He described the situation, expressed the concerns that the pastor had to face with his message, and the approach that the pastor took.
The one area in the book that I didn't agree with was infant baptism. One of the pastors talked about infant baptism in his message. I believe baptism is for believers. Baptism is for people who have made a conscious decision to trust Christ as their Savior and Lord; and they desire to follow Christ in obedience by by being baptized.
There are many things that Seminaries teach to prepare you for ministry and there are things that they can't. Not that they are not faithful to give you an education that you need, its just things in life are very unpredictable. Losing a loved one to cancer or suicide. Tragedies that shook our nation, such as 9-11. There is no training for that except on the field.
That is where this book, The Hardest Sermons You'll Ever Have To Preach, becomes a very helpful resource. Bryan Chapell collected 25 sermons for the purpose of equipping Pastors for the task of doing a sermon, whether corporate worship or funeral, for the unexpected. This book contains sermons for John Piper, Tim Keller, and many others with a Reformed Theology background.
I appreciated this book being available not just for sermon helps, but for theological purposes. This book contains Tim Keller's sermon from the Sunday after 9/11 which was very insight. There is one sermon on the loss of a child which can be not only hard for the parents to go through, but for a pastor to preach. I am thankful that Chapell put John Piper's sermon on that subject because I would not know where to start.
This book is a must need for pastors to have because you never know when tragedy will strike your city or a family in your church.
Dr. Bryan Chapell has put together a wonderful collection of essays from well known established Pastors who often are called upon to preach the tough sermons at funerals that have devastated a family, a church or a community. How do we as faithful Pastors respond in such times of crisis? How do we write and preach sermons that will be tools in the Redeemer's Hands to bring comfort and care, show empathy and compassion, and yet preach the Gospel in all situations?
The books is broken down into five sections, they are;
Part One: Preaching in Response to Tragedy
Part Two: Preaching after the loss of a child
Part Three: Preaching funerals with Especially Difficult Causes or Circumstances
Part Four: Preaching funerals for Public figures
Part Five: Preaching after Suicide
Then there are three Appendixes to help the pastor deal with putting together these sermons and helping families to cope with the stresses they are facing.
Within the Five Categories listed above there are twenty-five chapters written by people such as John Piper, Bryan Chapell, Tim Keller, Michael Horton and others. The combined wisdom of these men and the years they have spent in preparing and teaching these difficult sermons gives them a unique perspective and they provide us with guidance that is difficult to find almost anywhere.
If you Shepherd a Flock of any type you will eventually be faced with a difficult crisis. I'm convinced that this will be the first reference book that you will reach for when you sit down to start writing that sermon that you desire to bring hope and healing to your congregation.
I want to thank Dr. Chapell for putting this together and believe he has given a very valuable gift to the Body of Christ.