The Christ-Centered Expositor: A Field Guide for Word-Driven Disciple Makers
Tony Merida, B&H Academic (2016)
Tony Merida divides The Christ-Centered Expositor into two main parts, ‘The Expositor’s Heart’ and ‘The Expositor’s Message,’ and he shows equal concern for preachers preparing themselves and preparing their sermons. The book’s great strength lies in Merida’s clear presentation of smart ideas relating to both halves of these ideas. He writes, ‘Good preaching and teaching come through a person who treasures the Christ of the Word,’ and the rest of the book focuses on how move toward Christ and how to explain him from Scripture.
In the first half, Merida avoids a simple spiritual discipline or spiritual growth formula. His expositor’s heart comes largely from finding Christ throughout the Word, and learning how to protect doctrine and preserve your focus. He encourages as much as he instructs, and the book truly aids in, as you’d hope, centring on Christ. His section on prayer offers insights specific to the pastoral life, maintaining the sharpness of the book.
The second half provides enough specifics to walk a preacher through sermon-planning, but allows enough space to individual style. There are books more suited to specific guidelines (and Merida may have read them all), but this one manages to be open to variety even while highlighting essential elements. Merida’s writing deserves the highest compliment: his technical writing made me want to write a sermon immediately, anxious to apply his thinking to my own work. His loose model would almost surely lead to clear and interesting sermons that persistently deliver the gospel.
The book, in its nature, offers mostly overview, but it’s so dense that it would nearly stand alone. Fortunately, Merida conveys his enthusiasm for Christ and for preaching so well that he’s likely to send readers out into any number of texts in his quality bibliography.
Merida’s writing almost exclusively for preachers, although he does include a useful appendix for doing exposition outside of sermons. The lessons throughout the book could certainly apply to leaders of Sunday school classes, home groups, and the like, but the book mostly maintains its focus on sermon preparation and delivery.
Reviewed by Justin Cober-Lake