Review of ‘Preaching in an Age of Distraction’ by J. Ellsworth Kalas


Unknown J. Ellsworth Kalas, Preaching in an Age of Distraction (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2014). Paperback / Kindle

Ours is an Age of Distraction.

The ubiquity of smart phones and social media, together with the crush of the 24/7 news cycle, creates an overload of information that renders concentration difficult. The proliferation of options regarding household necessities, entertainment options, and extracurricular activities renders even the best decision-makers anxious.

Should I buy oatmeal or cream of wheat? A specific brand or generic? Instant or… Wait, my cell phone is ringing. My wife wants me to pick up our son from his play date and take him to baseball practice before we all go to church tonight.

As ministers of the gospel, we are distracted. Our parishioners are distracted. Our culture is distracted.

How do we preach as such people to such people in such an age? How do we become undistracted preachers ourselves?

J. Ellsworth Kalas sets out to answer these questions in this little gem of a book. Kalas is a United Methodist minister and senior professor of homiletics at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Like John Wesley, his spiritual forefather, Kalas wants preachers to speak plain truth to plain people. To do that, they need to cultivate excellence in their own lives so that they can minister with excellence to the people of God.

In many ways, Preaching in an Age of Distraction is a primer in homiletics, covering the standard topics: the preacher’s spiritual formation, preparation, and sermon content and delivery. But using distraction as a fundamental problem to solve gives poignancy and piquancy to his remarks. The book helps preachers move from distraction to excellence.

Preaching in an Age of Distraction is an good book—an instant classic, I hope—for pastors just setting out in their ministries, as well as those stuck in the mud who need help out.

P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.

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