For Pastors: The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Preach

Greg Strand – March 19, 2012 Leave a comment

–comments by Greg Strand, EFCA Director of Biblical Theology and Credentialing

Bryan Chapell, The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Preach
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011)

In this new book Chapell includes sermons from many pastors under five different categories:

  • Part One: Preaching in Response to Tragedy
  • Part Two: Preaching After the Loss of a Child
  • Part Three: Preaching Funerals with Especially Difficult Causes or Circumstances
  • Part Four: Preaching Funerals for Public Figures
  • Part Five: Preaching After Suicide
  • Appendixes: Helps for Handling Tragedies

In addition to Chapell, some others you would recognize are Tim Keller, John Piper and Michael Horton. Chapell begins with a helpful introduction that frames the rest of the book, “The Message of the Cross for the Mystery of Tragedy.”

As Chapell notes, this is not something you can really be taught, but rather you learn through experience. It is the place where one’s theology finds expression in the midst of some of life’s most challenging times. If our theology is not rock-solid here, it is useless. Most have a “theology” for when things are going well in life. It is the heart of the gospel of Christ that provides answers in the midst of these pains. There is no purposeless suffering. Because of who God is and His plans for His children are good, even in the midst of this sinful fallen-yet-being redeemed world, there is a teleology, an end with a God-ordained purpose to it.

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Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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