One of the most difficult and rewarding facets of pastoral ministry is preaching through books of the Bible. I’m praying Christ returns before I have to preach through Ezekiel!
In this series of posts I want to share some of the things I’ve learned from 25 years of preaching through books of the Old and New Testament.
The first thing I do is select a theme for the series. Here are some I discovered:
- Unfaithful People/Faithful God
- So Great Salvation
- God in Chaos
- Broken Heroes
From Judges 2:19 I selected the theme: The Salvation Of Stubborn Hearts. I wanted to capture God’s gracious deliverance and our stubborn tendency to forget Him and worship idols.
The theme you select is important because it is heard and developed in every sermon.
One of the hurdles of preaching through books of the Bible is locating and communicating the relevance of each preaching portion in the book. The theme can be extremely helpful in showing this relevance.
If your theme is accurate–meaning it is found in the book and is a major, not minor, concept–then it becomes the foundation for the relevance of each individual sermon. So all the time it takes reading the book, figuring out how it functions for the church is well worth it. And selecting the theme for the series usually takes up a majority of my study time as I prepare for the first sermon.
I wish there was a foolproof method for locating such a theme. I have discovered that theme-worthy concepts are often found at the beginning or ending of a book. That’s a great place to begin looking. It paid off for me in Judges as I said above. I’m sure a theme could be developed from the famous, final words describing God’s people: everyone doing what was right in their own eyes.
So, if you plan to preach through a book of the Bible soon, spend some time selecting a theme for the series so our Lord receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).