Note 1: You-ti-kus. Probably. It’s hard to be definite, but don’t be intimidated by the name.
Note 2: This book was provided by Matthias Media through Cross-Focused Reviews. It was on my “to-buy” list, but instead I scored a free one in exchange for the review.
Acts 20 has an interesting story along Paul’s route back to Jerusalem. In the city of Troas, Paul preaches and preaches. And preaches. And preaches some more. Somewhere in the midst of the last night, a young man named Eutychus falls out of the window to his death. That would have been a bad night…except the Holy Spirit enabled Paul to raise Eutychus from the dead.
And then go back to preaching.
Saving Eutychus takes its title from this story, but this book is not about the resurrection of the dead. Neither is it a CPR manual for those we bore to death on a Sunday to Sunday basis. Instead, this is a preventative medicine book. Saving Eutychus is about keeping him from dropping dead in the first place.
In all honesty, Saving Eutychus is a tightly-targeted book. If you are not involved in the proclamation and presentation of Biblical truth, this is not going to be of much use to you. If, however, you are involved in teaching or preaching, you are in the target audience here. There is some benefit for those who study rhetoric, but we are talking a pretty specialized book here.
Gary Millar and Phil Campbell co-author Saving Eutychus. These authors have experience in teaching, in preaching, and in teaching preaching. Their work presents an approach to preaching that differs from some current American-written texts on the subject. Instead, they reflect their Irish and Australian backgrounds. Well, I assume so. I don’t know if I should judge all of Ireland and Australia based on these two men.
However, on to content. After all, we’re not interviewing Millar and Campbell. We’re reading their book. Counting the appendices, Saving Eutychus comes in at 168 pages. Having been printed with footnotes, those 168 pages are certainly better than the same 168 pages with endnotes.
Then, we must look at what Millar and Campbell hope to communicate. Saving Eutychus is subtitled “How to preach God’s word and keep people awake.” This is the two-pronged attack: the sermon should be based in God’s Word; the sermon should keep people awake.
I found Saving Eutychus effective in communicating the need for clarity in preaching. Additionally, the authors point out how text-centered preaching will result in a similarity of messages, and how this is not a bad thing in itself. I was surprised to see a personal story that came across as critical of Bill Hybels, but it is placed strictly in the context of ensuring our preaching is about the text, not about common sense.
Having read three books on preaching in the last year, Saving Eutychus was truly the most practical of them. A major reason is that, while Millar and Campbell briefly address Biblical interpretation, this book focuses on the development and delivery of the sermon. It is presented with an underlying assumption that you can study the text and comprehend major ideas from it.
I liked the inclusion of sample sermons and critiques of those sermons. Further, the website at www.savingeutychus.com has the videos of these as well. Also in the appendix one finds blank sermon critique forms, though these can also be downloaded at the same website.
At the present time, if I had the opportunity to have a preaching study group, I would start with Saving Eutychus.
Now a word: not being up-to-date with Australian Evangelicals (or Irish ones living in Australia), I know nothing about the day-to-day ministries of Millar and Campbell. They may or may not be nice people—I know of a few very good books from American preachers who I would neither attend nor recommend attending their churches. That’s one advantage I see in this book, generally: there is no baggage to recommending Millar and Campbell.
Read their book. Be a better preacher. Keep people awake, both physically and spiritually.
And watch God work.
Remember: free book for the review.