I’ve been devouring the “Preaching with Bold Assurance” book available through Wordsearch. I’m right now stumbling along with Wordsearch as I just don’t have the income to get Logos outfitted to the point where it can replace Wordsearch. I’m itching a little at how Wordsearch lacks the detailed tools Logos has, but Logos right now lacks the materials I have in Wordsearch that I rely on!
Anyway, I see that on the week this was written (July 16) the “Preaching with Bold Assurance” book is free. Wordsearch gives away more free books than Logos. Perhaps a bad business decision, but it’s outfitted my library with about 30 books I never would have bought, and some I’d wished they’d never given away!
Since I’m currently working on the steps for preaching for someone else and for the blog, this book almost seemed like a direct pointer from God! The essential issue is, “What preaching type to use?”
For those unfamiliar, there’s two or three kinds. My old pastor preferred topical.
Topical Sermons. How do you write topical sermons? “Read through the Bible until something jumps out at you” is the common method. It leads literally to Pastors having multiple health problems, such as stress, heart attacks, high blood pressure, stomach ailments, and so forth. Why? Because it’s Thursday, you haven’t written your sermon yet, and Sunday’s coming REALLY fast.
Easier Way: Get a Torrey’s Topical Bible, and begin going through it. Is that cheating? No more than two pastors chatting and one saying, “I ‘m preaching through 1 John right now”, and you go home and read it and immediately spot something the congregation needs – and preach from 1 John the next day.
I’m only partially a fan of this method. I prefer Expository to topical sermons. Yes, I preached topically, because it wasn’t my pulpit. It belonged to my pastor. No shouting in the pulpit, no banging or thumping it, no apparent anger at sin or rebellion allowed. Right or wrong? Not my place, not my pulpit. I have personal feelings on it, but I’m not the one who has to account to the Lord on how he ran the Lord’s Church.
I only have to account for how well I obeyed the Pastor I was under. Now, I have officially withdrawn from my old church, and absolutely no comment right now about how it’s going there, or why is the new pastor giving his sermon points in Latin?
Expository Sermons: This made headlines when Emerging Church guru Andy Stanley, son of Dr. Charles Stanley, made a well publicized comment to the effect of “Expository preaching is cheating because you don’t have to put in the work at knowing what you’re preaching.” The foolishness of such a statement arises the moment Mr. Stanley attempts to write a sermon series. “Oh. I know what i’m preaching for the next three weeks.”
Here’s a truth. you want your church to be like the “Early Church”? It’s kind of an odd thing to want, and here’s why… there was only one “Early church”, the church at Jerusalem. After that, they became churchES.
The Jerusalem church followed the Jewish preaching cycle. You read from the first 5 books of Moses, then a section from the prophets. The members of the congregation read through the Psalms once a month on their own. The Jerusalem church added in readings from the Gospels. It’s no secret I place Matthew as the first Gospel written, and it was written as best as I can see within 5-8 years of the Lord’s ascension into heaven.
Later Christian writers showed that they added in from the Epistles.
This kind of yearly preaching cycle is called a Lectionary. Today, mostly dead, going-through-the-motions denominations do this. Very few Baptist churches bother with a lectionary. I’m undecided if that’s a good thing or bad. It was, however, the system used in the churches you read about in Acts.
The way to do this is to get a “Read through the Bible in a year” method, and follow it. The congregation reads through it, and the Pastor picks a section of that reading to present his sermon on. This was the direction urged in the Halley’s Bible Handbook. Modern reprints of it do not have this preaching plan in it any longer. I have a 1967 copy and a 2006 copy, and in 39 years they removed that, and adapted Halley’s quotations to that of the NIV. I cannot recommend the new editions any more.
The last method, the one urged in this book, is the simplest. Sunday morning, you’re preaching on either Genesis 1:1 or Matthew 1:1. And working your way through the book. You can go all the way through to Revelation, or you can skip around a bit to other books first.
My hesitation with this method is this… whatcha gonna do with 2 Chronicles??? He has answers, and very good reasons why he thinks preachers should attempt this.
- It encourages Christians to dwell in their bibles.
- He maintains that if the pastor skips the difficult passages, so will the congregation.
The author deals with the first problem with this approach – it’s often done by people who cannot preach their way out of a paper bag. They’re dull. Boring. He maintains preaching must be done to change lives. And he gives valid tools to do it (although I question one approach he got from I’m guessing a person who does seminar’s for a living).
The author is an educator at a Southern Baptist seminary (or was – I’m not sure which) and apparently was part of the first inroads of New Calvinists to corrupt the Southern Baptist Convention. So you’ll have to dodge Calvinist buzzwords in the book. It’s the only thing that brings my review of it down a little.
If you are preaching, and you follow my blog at all (I think there’s only a couple of you) read this book. Let me know if it has convinced you or not. I’m still trying to decide which approach is the most valid.
I’d like some feedback on this. Go ahead and tell me what you think. Here’s the questions I’d like answered, and I may well make it a sticky poll!
- What kind of preaching style do you prefer? Topical, Random, or Expository?
- If Expository, do you prefer Lectionary, reading cycle, or just right through the Bible?
Any other thoughts you have on this I’d like to hear.