I was browsing in the local Cokesbury bookstore, before it closed a while back, when I came across the most recent release of a favorite book of mine. I was impressed that sixty years after it was first published, this book is still being used by countless aspiring preachers as a guide in communicating the Gospel message. This book was written by Dorothy’s second cousin, Charlie Koller. He was born in 1896 in Waco, Texas.
He grew up as a member of Waco’s German Baptist Church now called Central Baptist. Dorothy’s grandmother, Elise Koller Niederer, organized the Woman’s Missionary Union at that church in 1910. Her grandparents were so impressed by the dedication and faithfulness of this man that they named two of their sons after him. Charles William Koller went to Baylor and studied law before following the call to preach and earning his Doctor of Theology degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He later served as the professor of preaching and president of the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago for more than twenty years. Dorothy introduced me to him once at a church anniversary in Waco.
The book, now titled How to Preach Without Notes, provided the framework for understanding expository preaching, which is basically reading the Scripture, relating the background of the passage and the application of its meaning for today. He emphasized how deeply one must study and prepare before standing to preach. By preaching without notes rather than reading from a prepared manuscript, the preacher could take what was in his head to his heart before speaking it to the people. The book is his seminary course on preaching. The chapter on how to file sermons in folders and manila envelopes has saved many a preacher’s Saturday night. The last half of the book contains 15 of his sermons. I had wonderful preaching professors in college and seminary, but Dr. Koller’s book shaped me profoundly, and I am grateful. The preacher’s watchword is found in Paul’s admonition to Timothy: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Tim. 4:2)
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Hide God’s Word in your heart. And let’s experience the love and power of God together while we are apart.