I became intrigued with the idea of preaching verse-by-verse through a book of the Bible during my seminary internship at Grafton, ND. My supervisor, Pastor Tim, skillfully walked through the texts of Scripture. Since the job of a preacher is to open up God’s Word to God’s people, why not build upon what you are opening up by digging into one book at a time?
What are some options for how preachers can deliver sermons?
1) Topical. In this approach, a preacher chooses a topic, such as “Marriage,” and crafts his message using Scripture verses that deal with the topic of marriage. By doing this the preacher bounces around the Scriptures highlighting different aspects of the topic. In the few sermons I have preached using this method, I have noticed that topical sermon generate a lot of attention and interest leading up to the message. One pitfall is that extra care needs to be taken to ensure that Bible verses used are not taken out of context.
2) Use the Pericope (pronounced “puh-rick-o-pee”). The pericope is a one year or three year listing of Scripture passages that coincide with the church year. So, for example, during Advent certain passages that cover the first coming of Jesus will be covered. The life of Christ is presented through the Gospel readings while Old Testament and other New Testament readings coincide with each other week by week. The strength of using this approach is that a big picture view of the life of Jesus is clearly presented. Also, "hobby horse” topics are avoided. A hobby horse idea is a topic that a preacher constantly comes back to, sometimes unknowingly. I also believe that hobby horse topics can be avoided in the third method. One weakness to this method is that the danger of taking a passage out of context can lurk.
3) Walk verse-by-verse through a book. This is what I have been doing since we started our “Romans Road” series. Here are some benefits. Certain topics are covered as we walk through books. Case in point being this past Sunday as we heard from God’s Word about homosexuality. In addition, preachers often take the time to cover background information of a book. By preaching through a book, I don’t necessarily have to do that week by week. Preaching through a book gives us a “big-picture” view of the themes of a book of the Bible over the course of time. I have planned to at least go through Romans 8, which will take us through January 2015. In the scope of this Fall we will see the terrible effects of sin, the answer of the grace of God, how one is brought into that grace, and how one begins and continues to see that grace permeate his or her life. What is a weakness of this approach? The sermons each week can simply become a running commentary.
Certainly each approach has many more weaknesses and strengths. The weaknesses can be avoided and the strengths can be highlighted. I suspect that in my ministry at King of Glory I will employ all of these at one point or another. I will admit that personally I prefer option #3. For this particular time, I believe the Lord has led us to this wonderful book of Scripture. He is laying a great foundation in our lives as we look at solid doctrine that is so wonderfully and systematically laid out in the book of Romans. I pray that you and I continue to be enriched in our faith during sermon time on Sunday mornings.
If you could choose a topic for me to preach on, what topic would that be?