The average pastor faces the daunting challenge of preparing several sermons each week. In the midst of ministering to his congregation throughout the week and casting a clear vision for the future ministry of the church, the pastor is called upon to proclaim a message from God’s Word faithfully every Wednesday night, Sunday morning and Sunday night.
Pastors face many challenges as they prepare messages. Many find themselves preaching from the same genre of Scripture continually. In their efforts to preach three times a week, they tend to gravitate to the familiar texts or camp out in the gospels or epistles. While there is nothing wrong with preaching from theses genres of Scripture, the pastor runs the risk of omitting much of the Bible when preaching primarily through books in the New Testament or familiar texts in the Old Testament.
One way to remedy this ongoing problem is to develop a preaching plan which incorporates a daily Bible reading plan whereby the pastor preaches through the Bible in a year. This can be done very effectively by providing the congregation a daily Bible reading plan and then leading the church to commit to reading the Bible through in one year.
Engaging the church body in an endeavor such as this can have many benefits to your ministry. The first benefit of such a cooperative effort is that the entire body will be reading through the Bible at the same pace and hearing the Word of God together. This will bring unity to the body members begin to discuss what they are reading and share how God is leading them during their quiet time.
A second benefit to the body of Christ is that it will be exposed to the whole counsel of God in a year, not simply favorite books or passages. This daily reading plan will provide a clearer picture of God’s redemptive plan from Genesis to Revelation.
The most significant benefit of this daily reading plan comes when the pastor combines the daily reading with the preaching plan and weekly Bible studies. As the church body reads the Word and members consider its truths, these truths are reinforced by the pastor in weekly messages, as well as discussed during the week in small groups and bible studies.
Another benefit is that the pastor’s preaching plan will direct him or her in preaching through the Bible and linking the congregation’s daily reading with the sermons. The advantage of this preaching plan is the entire congregation will have the advantage of having read not only the text being preached, but also the context from which that text comes.
As the church reads through the Bible together, it will be reliving the biblical story together. When the pastor preaches on Sunday, the congregation will have a much clearer understanding of the background for the text under consideration, which will enable members to grasp the message more easily. In fact, this methodology enables the congregation to join the pastor on the exegetical journey to discover the truths within the text and celebrate together when these truths are exposed and applied.
This preaching plan is a great benefit to the pastor, as well. As with any preaching plan, this plan eliminates the weekly stress about determining what to preach. In implementing this preaching plan, the pastor is committing to preach through the Bible following the daily Bible reading plan he or she has developed for the congregation. By following this guide, the pastor always knows the text from which he or she will be preaching. Furthermore, because the pastor is reading through the Bible along with the congregation, he or she constantly is engaged with the biblical text under consideration, as well as the surrounding passages. Each week builds on the next, and the pastor finds him or herself constantly soaking in the biblical story as it leads into the next week.
Develop a Daily Bible Reading Plan
In order to implement this preaching plan, pastors should develop a daily Bible reading calendar for the congregation to follow throughout the year. This should be done on a Sunday morning so as to gain the most participation. Provide multiple opportunities for the church members to secure a daily Bible reading calendar.
The pastor should spend ample time preparing the church for the presentation of these calendars. He should walk listeners through the advantages of reading the Bible through in a year as a church and generate excitement and enthusiasm. He should remind the church that reading the Bible through together will enable participants to take the journey together. This will provide opportunities of mutual accountability and encouragement. At the end of the year, the church will have read through the entire Bible and have a clearer grasp of the biblical story.
Preach Through the Daily Bible Reading Plan
Before this calendar is distributed to the congregation, the pastor should go through the calendar and plan the preaching, being sure to choose a text each week that is covered in the prior week’s readings. I have found it most beneficial if I preach on the text that is covered on that particular Sunday. When I preach on the text from that given Sunday, the congregation has been engaged with the background passages throughout the week and is familiar with the literary context in which the passage under consideration rests.
As the pastor works through the daily Bible reading calendar, texts should be chosen that cover the entire Bible. Developing one’s preaching plan in this fashion allows the pastor to preach from each of the various genres of Scripture while inviting the congregation to join in discovering the Christo-centric theme that runs throughout the Bible.
As congregants read through God’s redemptive history with His people, they rediscover the biblical story and see more clearly how the passage being preached fits into the big picture. When the pastor finishes this preaching plan, the congregation not only will have been exposed to the truths from all of Scripture, but also will have read through the entire Bible personally.
Develop Mid-Week Bible Studies
When utilizing this preaching plan, the pastor also can enhance the congregation’s grasp of the Bible not only by preaching through this calendar in a year, but also by developing the mid-week Bible studies from the reading the congregation has been engaged in throughout the week.
This methodology benefits the pastor in several ways: It will serve to strengthen the retention of the reading the congregation has been engaged in throughout the week; provide a time for the congregation to gain clarification on issues it came across in its reading that was not understood; enhance the congregation’s understanding of the Bible; and further prepare it for the sermon it will hear on Sunday morning.
When preparing the mid-week Bible study, I suggest teaching on the passage of Scripture the congregation reads on the day of the study. I have found this beneficial because the text being studied is fresh on members’ minds as are any questions or concerns they may have about the text. Another great benefit for the preacher and congregation is they know what is being studied from week to week and can prepare accordingly.
Every pastor longs for his or her church to come to Bible study eager and prepared; this plan increases the chances for that to become a reality. The pastor receives a great benefit from this methodology in that not only is the preaching schedule planned for the year, but also the teaching schedule.
Implement Feedback Sessions
Another way to further enhance the understanding of Scripture using this method is to employ a feedback session either as your Sunday evening service or in small groups. The best way to accomplish this is to follow the morning message with a question/answer session during the evening service.
The pastor can begin with the outline from the morning message and walk the congregation through the exegetical process, as well as share how he or she arrived at this outline, the key words focused on in the study, and some of the difficult questions he or she felt needed to be answered while studying the text.
One of the advantages of this time spent with the congregation is the pastor gets the opportunity to teach the congregation how to approach a biblical passage, how to exegete the passage, and how one applies the biblical truths in the passage. This enables the pastor not only to preach the Word of God to the congregation, but to teach it how to join in the exegetical journey.
Develop Sunday School Curriculum
Once the pastor has developed the daily reading plan, determined the preaching plan and prepared the teaching plans with the question/answer sessions included, there is one final opportunity to tie all of this together. The pastor can work with the staff in developing Sunday School curriculum to coincide with the weekly passages read throughout the year. This provides the opportunity to tie in the Sunday School lessons with the morning message or to highlight a different text studied throughout the week to assist the congregation in gaining a deeper appreciation for God’s redemptive story throughout the year.
One can see the benefits of having your Sunday School classes study the same passages they are reading throughout the week. The year becomes a thematic journey through the Bible with the pastoral staff as the tour guide, not only preaching and teaching from these texts, but also equipping the body of Christ to exegete the biblical text personally. Each part of this preaching/teaching plan complements the other so the congregation gains a thorough knowledge of the biblical story and is equipped to study the Bible individually.
While this may seem to be a great deal of work for busy pastors, in reality it focuses more attention on a specific group of passages each week while engaging him or her in the biblical story throughout the year. With the help of the pastoral staff, the pastor can present a preaching/teaching plan that will pay dividends to the congregation for years to come.