A Catechism for Preachers

The heart of Lewis Allen’s The Preacher’s Catechism is a series of 43 questions and answers that relate to the ministry of preaching. A small portion of related Scripture is then supplied, followed by a further exploration of the particular question and answer that forms the bulk of each chapter. Lewis has broken the questions into four parts.

Part 1, The Glory of God and the Greatness of Preaching, addresses the foundations that preaching must rest upon.

Part 2, Jesus for Preachers, moves through sin and the gospel.

Part 3, Loving the Word, focuses upon the importance of God’s law in preaching.

Lastly, Part 4, Preaching with Conviction, considers the sacraments and prayer in relation of preaching.

Anyone familiar with the Heidelberg Catechism or Westminster Shorter Catechism will recognize that Allen is not attempting to reinvent the wheel. Indeed, he explicitly writes in the introduction that “The Preacher’s Catechism is indebted to the Westminster Shorter Catechism in its question-and-answer format and its overall structure” (22). The reader will find no demolition and reconstruction of such mighty works here, which is a great compliment by the way. Rather, Allen is channeling such works through this new catechism directly toward preachers and the ministry of preaching.

To be honest, I began reading this book twice before completing it on my third attempt. My first two failed attempts to latch onto this book were, I believe, rooted in my expecting it to be a kind of manual for preaching ministry. Of course, Allen makes no such claim, so the fault was fully mine. On my third attempt, I read it chapter-by-chapter in the catechism section of my latest pass throughs of Be Thou My Vision. That devotional context enabled me to receive the book as it was intended to be received: devotionally. Although this book is fully about preachers and preaching, it is not about the mechanics and techniques; instead, it targets the heart of the preacher. The conclusion of the first chapter makes this clear:

You can only preach what you love. You can only truly love if you know and are daily fed by the love of God. God is always preaching himself, as the God of love. He has no greater message, no other gospel, and no greater purpose. Neither do we.


As a guide for God-oriented self-inspection of preacher’s hearts, The Preacher’s Catechism excels in every way. Read each chapter prayerfully, ready to confess sin and/or make supplication of your neediness to God.

For further reading, the following two posts were formed from my reading through this book:

To Manuscript Or Not to Manuscript?

The Preacher’s Confidence


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