Michael Fabarez. Preaching that Changes Lives. Grand Rapids: Wipf and Stock Publishers.,
2002. 224 Pg. $24.99. ISBN 1-59752-368-2. Reviewed by Christopher L. Sanchez,
In his book Preaching that Changes Lives, Dr. Fabarez has managed to find that rare balance between sound doctrine and the practical. He finds this balance in the 15 chapters of his book divided into four parts.
Part 1: Rethink Your Task
Part 2: Prepare to Change Lives
Part 3: Preach to Change Lives
Part 4: Follow Through to Change Lives
There can be little doubt about the impact Dr. Fabarez believes preaching should have on the lives of those who hear the sermon delivered. Preaching should be done in such a way as to demand a response by those hearing the message and the Apostle Paul never allowed those whom he taught to forget this (p. 8 – 9). The two chapter that comprise part one lay the groundwork for the remainder of the book.
Early in part two, Fabarez drives home a critically important point: submitting to the principles one teaches (p. 26 – 27). To put it another, less academic way, we must practice what we preach! The importance of ministers constantly evaluating themselves and their own fitness to proclaim the Word of God is also a humbling topic that Fabarez handles thoroughly yet tactfully in just a few pages. After this bit of housekeeping, Fabarez uses the remaining chapters of part two to encourage sermon preparation with life-change in mind.
Part three opens with a reminder that the preacher’s audience will not change what they do not hear or understand. The entire counsel of God should be proclaimed to be sure but it must also be explained so that people understand what was said. These messages should focus on God and not something of the world which implicitly means Christ-centered preaching (p. 114 – 116). These types of messages are also, by their very nature, authoritative and Fabarez rightly reminds his readers that the preacher is not in the business of entertaining a crowd. The preacher is responsible for articulating the truth of God and the implications to this generation (p. 128 – 129).
Fabarez closes with part four focusing on the culture in the local church and providing the members of the congregation the tools necessary to make the changes that are being urged in the sermon. A fresh reminder of the importance of practicing what is being preached is offered as well. The importance of modeling the behavior that the preacher is encouraging others to change cannot be overstated and must be practiced purposefully (p. 190 – 194).
Dr. Fabarez offers a contemporary view of the task of preaching with more than an eye towards life-change. His work reminds us that the pastorate is a privilege that requires commitment, dedication, and a love for people and seeing them grow in their faith. The key strength to Fabarez’s is the thorough approach he takes to his topic. Every aspect of the book is intentional, practical, and useful for experienced church leaders or those in seminary preparing for the ministry the Lord will one day call them to. If there is a weakness to be found in this book, one might be critical of the leanness of the tools Dr. Fabarez offers for helping people make the changes in their lives the preacher may be suggesting. Were a second edition published, adding more meat to this chapter of the book to include current technology would be quite welcome and helpful.