The favorite part of my job is preaching. This year I have enjoyed preaching more than ever and I believe my preaching is more effective than ever. Here are some reflections on what I’ve been doing…
I’ve been teaching verse by verse through books of the Bible. Since January of 2011 we (at Church180) have gone through:
- Song of Solomon (4 weeks)
- Romans (8 weeks)
- James (13 weeks)
- And are now working our way through 1 Peter in what will be a 16 week journey.
Teaching verse by verse does a few things for me as a pastor:
- I don’t spend much time thinking “What am I going to preach next?” I just go to the next “chunk” of Scripture and teach what it says!
- Because I’m following the lead of the Scripture we are talking about things we might never talk about otherwise. For instance, the last two weeks in Peter have been: 1) how to live as a Christian under the authority of government and 2) how to function as a Christian under the authority of a superior you might not like.
- Teaching verse by verse allows me to speak with new, bold authority. It is clear that what I am saying is not my idea. I’m just saying out loud what God spoken to us through the authors of Scripture.
- Teaching verse by verse through a book allows me time to read the through the book multiple times in addition to reading through at least three commentaries on the book. The bottom line is that after I have taught through a book I have a solid understanding of that book and what it teaches.
- Teaching verse by verse through a book of the Bible forces me to hear from God on matters that I might otherwise avoid… because I don’t know what to say about it, because it’s too uncomfortable for me to talk about, or because it hits to close to home!
Here’s the process I follow as I teach through a book of the Bible:
- I determine which book we are going to teach through. Right now we are working book by book through the “General Epistles.”
- I read through the particular book multiple times until an outline becomes clear. After I have written down what appears to be the outline of the book I will check with 5-7 experts to see how they have outlined the book. After making any necessary adjustments I have my teaching outline for the series (for instance, 1 Peter has 16 “chunks” (technically called a “pericope“) which equals 16 weeks worth of teaching).
- Every week I print out the “chunk” I am going to be teaching that weekend. I print it out in five different Bible versions (New American Standard, New International Version, New Living Translation, The Message, and The Amplified Version). I read over and over and over the verses in the different versions. While I am reading I take notes, write questions, and collect stories to be used that weekend.
- Also during the week I read three different commentaries on the “chunk” of Scripture I will be teaching that weekend.
- Now I have read five different translations, worked with my own thoughts/ideas and study, and have also gained insight from the scholars who have written the commentaries.
- Then I write and teach the sermon.
I am enjoying teaching verse by verse through the Bible! It is growing me personally and our church is growing too, both spiritually and numerically. God was right when He said about His Word, “I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it” (Isaiah 55:11 NLT)