Serving the local church through pulpit ministry is more often than not done through a process of planning. Many aspects are examined when planning for preaching. At any given time, I try to take into consideration the state of the church, the needs of the folks, the direction in which I believe God is leading the church, prayer, the calendar, and at times local, state, national and even international events. The process of planning for preaching must stretch the preacher and serve the congregation faithfully with the goal of teaching the whole counsel of God. I am committed to expositional preaching. I believe that God inspired the 66 books of the Bible and the best way I can serve the church is by preaching through books. I have preached expositional messages on various subjects and doctrines. I have preached expositional messages through shorter books in both the Old and New Testament but I had never successfully preached through a longer book. Recently, in about 40 messages, I preached through the entirety of Acts.
Here are some things that I learned preaching through a longer book of the Bible:
⁃ God inspired the writing of books, even long ones, for a reason. Preaching through this book caused me to think at length about the expansion of the Gospel through the local church. The book of Acts isn’t just the first history book of the church but it also addresses, at length, her purpose and displays that purpose in action in the face of many obstacles.
⁃ Somewhere there is an intersection between the attention of men and women and my ability to hold that attention on a given subject. I don’t always do this well. There were certain sections that I needed to summarize in order to move forward at a pace that kept this balance.
⁃ As much as it was a discipline for me to preach through a long book, it is also a discipline for people to listen through a long book. I believe God grew me as a preacher as we moved through Acts and I believe He grew those whom I serve as I preached through Acts. There are many opinions about the local church but this provided a basis to gain our bearings.
⁃ It was helpful to periodically take breaks from the series. This enabled me to address pressing needs of our church and allow both the church and myself to return to the series with renewed interest.
⁃ Preaching through a long book brings unique challenges. But, preaching through different genres also provides unique challenges. A long book that is almost entirely narrative stretched me and I am the better for it.
Video from this series can be found here.