Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Religion Preaching

Preacher, Can You Hear Us Listening?

by (author) Roger E. Van Harn

foreword by Eugene H. Peterson

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
Initial publish date
Feb 2005
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2005
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Everyone knows that pulpits are for preaching and pews are for listening to sermons. This obvious scenario, however, masks an essentialprerequisite for faithful, fruitful preaching -- namely, that preachers listen to God and to their people before they speak.
Roger Van Harn here puts forth pointed questions that sermon listeners really ask of preachers: Why should we listen to sermons? Doesevery sermon need a Bible text? How can a sermon be the word of God? Do you preach for the church or the world? Van Harn grapples withand discusses such questions, giving preachers fresh insights into the needs and desires of congregations. Preacher, Can You Hear Us Listening? will foster an ongoing dialogue between pulpit and pew and sharpen listening skills in both directions.

About the authors


Roger E. Van Harn (1923–2019) was the pastor of multiple churches, including Grace Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from 1977 to 1998. He was also the author or editor of several books after his retirement from ministry, including an Eerdmans lectionary commentary series.

Roger E. Van Harn's profile page

Eugene H. Peterson (1932–2018) was a longtime pastor and professor of spiritual theology at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia. His many acclaimed books include Tell It Slant, The Jesus Way, Eat This Book, and the contemporary translation of the Bible titled The Message.

Eugene H. Peterson's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Richard Lischer
"Finally, a book about preaching written from the hearer's point of view! Roger Van Harn gives powerful voice to those who listen to sermons, but without watering down the challenging content of the message. Indeed, he shows that the preacher's sensitivity to the listener raises the stakes for preaching. This is a wonderful book for any preacher who has ever mused, 'I wonder what they got out of my sermon."
Ronald J. Allen
"This book is part of an exciting new wave in the preaching community — preachers intentionally turning to listeners to determine what listeners want and need to hear from sermons. Roger Van Harn, noted author in the field of preaching, takes up twelve questions that members of congregations really ask about preaching. Among the questions: Why should we listen to sermons? Does every sermon need a Bible text? How can a sermon be the word of God? Do you preach for the church or the world? In his practical responses to these questions, Van Harn not only helps preachers hear what congregants seek from the pulpit on Sunday morning but also develops a theology of the relationship between preaching and listening. Each chapter concludes with discussion questions that a minister could use with a group of laity or clergy studying this book. Furthermore, each chapter can spark a sermon, and the book as a whole could even inspire a series of sermons."
Marguerite Shuster
"In this welcome updating of his good book Pew Rights, Roger Van Harn reminds his readers of what all hearers of sermons know but what most preachers unaccountably forget: before preachers speak, they need to listen — listen to their text, listen to their people, listen to their world. Van Harn combines an abundance of good sense with a seasoning of some sparkling phrases in this clear and accessible volume. One finishes it with the feeling that here is a kindly, wise, knowledgeable man who has lived a little and who is trustworthy. One would be very glad to rely upon him as one's pastor and would be blessed, helped, and strengthened from listening to him week by week. And preachers would be much better preachers if they took his advice."
Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society
"Well conceived and worth reading. Van Harn raises important questions, provides helpful insights, and provokes some serious considerations for preaching."
"Even for the seasoned preacher, this text is worthwhile reading because it reinforces lessons learned in seminary that may have been cast aside or forgotten."
Reformed Worship
"This book is good medicine for preachers and pew sitters alike. Do not be fooled: the title may give the impression that the book is aimed at preachers. But Van Harn is also keen on helping sermon listeners improve their hearing of the Word preached."

Other titles by Eugene H. Peterson