Good Christian preaching is not only full of biblical and gospel truth, it also is aimed at the heart, mind, soul, and strength. Or, in other words, good preaching has much to do with the affections. This is the theme of a recent book called Burning Hearts: Preaching to the Affections (Ross-Shire: Christian Focus, 2014). In this short book, the authors give some basic info about sermons that touch the heart.
There are two parts to the book: 1) An explanation of what it means to preach to the affections, and 2) four examples of sermons that speak to the affections. In the first part, the authors define affections and preaching. Then they spend a little time answering these questions: “Why preach to the affections?” and “How do you preach to the affections?”
In case you’re wondering, here’s the authors’ definition of affections:
“Affections are the movement of our thoughts, feelings and will towards a desired object, person or event. An affection is what inclines us to something (whereas an effect is what results from something). Affections are what move us towards action” (p. 14).
I appreciated this section that describes what affections are, and I liked the reasons the authors gave to preach to the affections (for two examples, we should preach to the affections because it’s biblical and because there is historical precedent). The section on how to preach to the affections was also helpful; I’m always thankful for biblical advice on preaching! The sermon examples at the end of the book weren’t overly helpful for me, since often reading sermons is much different than hearing a sermon. It’s tough to read a sermon and then listen to the authors reflect and comment on the written sermon.
This book is helpful, and I’m glad I read it. My major critique is that the book is too short! I was hoping for more information on preaching to the affections. This seemed like an introduction to the topic. The “how to” chapter was only around 15 small pages. But again, it has made me think more about preaching to the affections, and I will for sure read some sections again while I prepare sermons the next few weeks!