Home > Reviews > Persuasive Preaching by R.Larry Overstreet

Persuasive Preaching by R.Larry Overstreet


Michael Dudit, executive editor of Preaching Magazine, writes in the foreword that “the reader will find in this book a valuable discussion of what persuasion really is, what the Bible has to say about it, how it is modeled in the New Testament, and what role persuasion should and should not play in our own preaching in the twenty-first century. The author has provided solid biblical content and practical guidance that will be a powerful resource for preachers and church leaders. He writes with clarity and—dare I say it?—persuasive power. I hope you will be as blessed by this book as I have been.”



Forewords by Michael Duduit & Warren W. Wiersbe


       Part 1: Issues Facing Persuasive Preaching

1. Identifying Persuasion

2. Problems Facing Persuasive Preaching

Part 2: Biblical Support for Persuasion

3. The Challenge to Persuasive Preaching

4.  Words for Persuasion in Paul’s Epistles

5.  A Pauline Theology of Preaching

6.  Paul’s Proclamation Exhortations

7. Principles of Biblical Persuasion

Part 3: Structuring Persuasive Messages

8. Structuring Persuasive Messages: Motivated Sequence

9. Structuring Persuasive Messages: Problem-Solution

10. Structuring Persuasive Messages: Cause-Effect

11. Structuring Persuasive Messages: Refutation

Part 4: Pertinent Applications in Persuasive Preaching

12. Persuasion Versus Manipulation

13. The Holy Spirit in Preaching

14. The Invitation

(From the Publisher’s Website)





“Persuasion is not an evil word. We all seek to persuade others, and others seek to persuade us. It occurs in schools when advisers and peers seek to persuade us to take a certain course or to avoid another course. It occurs in politics as we are so forcefully reminded with every election, whether local, state, or national. We often participate in political persuasion, even if it is only in private conversations as we point out the strengths of our favorite candidate and the weaknesses of the opponents. It occurs in the advertisements that confront us on a daily basis. We participate in persuasion, too, when we tell a friend that we tried a certain product and found it wonderfully beneficial. Persuasion is a normal part of life.” (From Chapter 7, Page 107)



Let me start with a disclaimer: I am not a preacher by profession. But I try to read 2 or 3 books on preaching every year. Why? Because I do teach, I am a manager, and I am a husband and father. All of these roles require communication. I also sit under the preaching of the Word of God every week. Reading these books helps me with my communication skills and helps me to be a better listener in the pew.

When I saw this book advertised, I thought it would be helpful especially in my teaching. I see the need for persuasion when a speaker presents any material. So I wondered what angle this book would take. I was a little surprised to see that the author thinks persuasion is missing in most preaching today. Persuasive preaching has certainly been evident in the churches that I have attended. The author starts by defining persuasion. This is certainly very helpful if you are going to write a book on the concept. The author then draws our attention to philosophies that offer an obstacle to persuasive preaching: modernism and post-modernism. It was then that I could understand the reason for his polemical and apologetic approach. This concluded section 1.

Section 2 caught me off guard. It is entitled: Biblical Support for Persuasion. In this section the author seeks to establish persuasion as a biblical norm in practice. The book title implies that this would be applied to preaching. In the examples that are given over the next 2 chapters, the reader can see that the concept of persuasion is represented in the scriptures. But what  in my opinion the author fails to do is to supply biblical examples of persuasion in preaching. What we are shown is that evil men persuade mobs and even believers in Christ to believe lies. We also spend a chapter seeing the various ways Paul uses the concept of persuasion in his writings.

In the next chapter the author tries to build a Pauline Theology of Preaching.  I applaud the instances that the author uses from the book of Acts where I believe we see most clearly the practice and content of preaching.

The next chapter was on the preacher’s ethos or character. The author was spot on with this one. He properly draws from Paul’s writings the  accounts of Paul’s conduct towards those he ministered to. In the final chapter of this section the author draws from the Old Testament some principles of persuasion.

Section 3 was perhaps the most practically helpful section. The chapters in this section help you structure your message in a way that is persuasive dealing with such structures as cause and effect, problem and solution, and refutation.

Section 4 starts out well giving the reader a distinction between persuasion and manipulation. Then the author moves into the chapter that I think should have started the book: the Holy Spirit in Preaching. I must confess, up to this point my impression of the writer was that he depended more on the persuasiveness of man than the power of the Holy Spirit. But much to my relief the author clears that up with this excellent chapter. The concluding chapter in this section is on the invitation. I do not agree entirely with the author on this subject.

This book was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed section 1, the last chapter in section 2, section 3, and the first two chapters in section 4 (see above).  If you read this book, use discretion. I came to this book believing that persuasion is needed in preaching. I did not need my mind changed in that regard. But this book did nothing to strengthen that conviction from a biblical perspective. I did however benefit from some of the practical application of the persuasive methods.


Book Details:


  • Author: R. Larry Overstreet 
  • Publisher: Weaver Book Company
  • Format: Paperback
  • Page Count: 312
  • ISBN#: 9781941337004
  • List Price: $24.99



About the Author:

R. Larry Overstreet (Ph.D., Wayne State University) is adjunct professor of the Ph.D. program at Piedmont International University. Formerly he was director of the Doctor of Ministry program and professor of pastoral theology at Corban University School of Ministry (formerly Northwest Baptist Seminary), Tacoma, WA. In addition, he was a pastor of churches in Michigan and Indiana for 17 years, and he is the author of Biographical Preaching: Bringing Bible Characters to Life. (From the Publisher’s Website)


Where to Buy:




Disclaimer: I received this book from Weaver Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my unbiased opinion.


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