Facing snarls and scowls…

I’ve been around people who are in ministry my whole life, I’ve been in ministry for a few years and I’ve learned many things. Two things that I’ve learned are 1) ministry is fun, and 2) ministry is hard.

Preaching is exactly the same! As a preacher you’re speaking to say 50+ people (whether the number is greater or fewer the difficulties are the same), all with different backgrounds, all with different ideas of what you should be preaching and many with some theological differences. Therefore, the job of any preacher is not an easy one, but it is an absolute joy!

Brian Croft and James Carroll teamed up and wrote Facing scowls and scowls: preaching through hostility, apathy, and adversity in church revitalization. This book is a breathe of fresh air. It describes the struggles of preaching, but also the truths that will help you power through even when you want to run away. So why is preaching so important? Here’s what Brian says…

“Arguably, biblical preaching is one of the most important tools in the hand of the Chief Shepherd as He seeks to breathe life back into struggling, dying churches. It is by the Word of God through the Spirit of God that true, lasting life is restored. Ground zero for this work is found at the foot of the pulpit every Sunday.”

This book is written with church revitalisation in mind, but the truths that it contains are relevant for every single church. Many people think that ministry and preaching are an absolute breeze “all you do is meet people all day, drink coffee and write a few words for a sermon” but the reality is that ministry is hard. This book is written so that preachers know that hostility, apathy and adversity are normal in ministry and to help the preacher remember that God is faithful and He can turn things around in every church and in every heart.

The heart cry of this book is a call for all pastors and preachers to persevere in their ministry. Perseverance doesn’t mean just throwing out sermons on a Sunday to keep folks happy, it means to work hard to glorify God and serve His people well.

“It doesn’t honor God to preach lousy sermons and blame the people for disliking ead, the preacher ought to labour faithfully in the study working hard to craft and deliver sermons that expose the meaning of a biblical text and make relevant application to the people.”

The book begins by taking you to some of the preachers in the Bible who persevered in times of trouble and persevered in their service. You walk through and look at people like Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, the disciples and Paul. The points that this chapter concludes with are 1) you are not alone others have persevered before you, and 2) “God used the mouths of men to make known His Word and used adversity to mold the men”

The nest chapter takes you through some of the prominent preachers of years gone by (Charles Simeon, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon and John Calvin). Two quotes from this chapter jumped out…

“Pastors, even in the Face of an apathetic congregation, do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season God will reap His harvest”


“Even outwardly fruitful ministries are not immune from the trials and sufferings; in fact, often the notoriety brings additional challenges “

People have been preaching for years, preachers have been loved and hated down the generations, but the thing that should keep every single preacher and pastor going is the desire to see God glorified in their ministry!

This book walks through the experiences of the two authors and teaches you the things that they have learned as they have struggled with people scowling and snarling during their sermons. It explains what makes a good sermon, how to stick it out when the going gets tough and how to glorify God and love the people at the same time.

God is so gracious to us fallen, broken, sinful human because not only are we adopted into His family but we are also given the privilege to open His Word and teach it! Preaching is a joy, and I thank God for the congregations that have listened to me preach with eager ears and attentive hearts.

This book challenged me because there have been times when I’ve wanted to walk away because ministry is hard, we are tempted to think that another church would be easier. But this book was a welcomed challenge to stay and preach God’s Word faithfully.

This book is full of tremendous quotes that I don’t have space to put them all here. This book really is a great tool to encourage, challenge and spur on pastors and preachers all over the world.

If you are a pastor or preacher, get this book! If you’ve been in ministry for any length of time you’ll have already thought about jumping ship because ministry is hard, but this book will challenge you to serve God through the trials. Even if you’re not in ministry and you want to get an insight into some of the difficulties that preachers face, pick up this book and read. Buy the book here and let Brian and James teach you from their experience and lift your eyes to God’s mission for the church as His Word is opened in pulpits across the world on Sundays.

Rating 5/5

Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky and is the Founder of Practical Shepherding. He is also Senior Fellow of the Mathena Center for Church Revitalization at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

James B. Carroll has been the Senior Pastor at Parkway Baptist in Bardstown, Kentucky since 2010.

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