Have you been there? Have you ever walked through that nine month journey that leads to new life? Nine months of expectant tension, excitement, hope, preparation, study, discipline, growth, and promise finally culminate in a miraculous (although somewhat laborious) release. After said release, something new is birthed, a new day arrives, and what you’ve been waiting for through nine long months is finally thrust upon you. The gestation period is all worth it, because the time has arrived!
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m talking about preaching. What did you think I was referring to?
Around nine months ago I came to LifePoint Church to answer the call of Lead Pastor. As a part of that calling, it is my responsibility to teach and preach God’s word on a weekly basis. Over the last nine months, I have done that week to week, working hard to discern the movement of God’s Spirit and the direction He is leading us, through and in His word.
I’ve been asked the question multiple times over my life and ministry, “How do you know what God wants you to preach?” My simple answer is “I look in His word.” While that is a massive over-simplification of the comprehensive process, it is sadly not simple enough for many pastors. My goal in this blog is not to pile on or be negative, but I feel a responsibility to at least address the issue. I hear almost every single week from people who visit our church for the first time, “Thank you for that sermon, it was so refreshing and needed to hear someone actually preach the Bible in their message, I’ve been starving for it!” It has become something of an inside joke between my staff and leadership over the last nine months, as we’ve heard some derivative of that comment numerous times.
It has always been a strong conviction of mine that the content of a sermon must be Scripture, faithfully and fully exposited in its context. I believe biblical preaching is expository preaching—i.e. exposing, explaining, and applying a specific text in its context. Over the last nine months I have been expositing a given text each week, leading up to what is about to come this Sunday at LifePoint Church.
We are birthing something new but the same. Beginning with my first sermon as LPC’s Lead Pastor, I have preached 6 sermon series,’ encompassing 36 sermons on 36 different passages, adding up to 435 verses of Scripture that have been exposited line by line. While the preaching has been expository, the sermon series’ have been thematic. What I mean by this is that a unifying theme has tied together the group of passages that I have chosen to preach on a weekly basis. For example, our first series of 2011 was called “Ekklesia,” and it encompassed exposition of 15 different passages over 15 weeks ranging from Matthew 16:13-21 to all of Romans 12.
I believe there is a place for a thematic sermon series. Especially around the holidays, in transition periods, in response to a natural disaster or major cultural trend, or to cast the visionary direction that God is leading the church. All of these reasons have informed my preaching direction over the last 9 months in one way or another. But I have finally felt the release.
What release am I talking about? I am talking about the release to start expositing book by book through the Scriptures. I have been waiting and praying for the release to begin tackling books instead of just themes through the expositional preaching of God’s word, and I believe it is upon us.
This Sunday I will begin my first full book study, on Titus, at LifePoint Church. By the grace of God and barring the return of Jesus, I hope to make it through all 66 in some form before this journey ends.
Soli Deo Gloria!