I don’t think it’s a secret that I love preaching and teaching verse-by-verse. I spent my first two years at WCC doing so through 1 and 2 Samuel, and I’ve done the same through a number of books in Sunday School and on Wednesday nights (where I’m currently in Hebrews and Revelation).
After regularly preaching for the 4.5 years I’ve been at WCC (as opposed to the occasional preaching I did as an associate pastor at my former church, Grace Baptist, in Lemoore, CA), I’m feeling much more comfortable preparing sermons. Looking back over the last few years there are some things I wish I would’ve done differently, but one thing I’m thankful for are some of the detours I took (i.e. the sermons on “Inside and Outside” when Scott Steenbarger was in the hospital, “Encouragement for Discouragement” when I was discouraged, “False Prophets” when we had to discuss Mormonism, the Marriage & Family Series, the current sermons on “Trials and Testing”), as opposed to continuing straight through Luke’s Gospel. Our Associate Pastor, Doug Connell, has been an encouragement to me, and Katie as well regularly saying, “You’re being led by the Lord. Preach what God wants you to preach.”
There’s a point as a pastor where you look at the prayer list, become familiar with the lives of the people in the congregation, think about the needs in the flock God’s called you to shepherd and as you’re studying you feel overwhelmed. You think, “How can a sermon meet each of these people where they’re at and minister to them individually?” It really forces you to pray, “Father, these are Your people. You know what’s going on in their lives. You know what they need to hear. You know how You want to speak to them through Your Word. Please do so. Please help me to know exactly what to say in the sermon.” You have to turn it over to the Lord and trust that if you do your best to be faithful in your studying and preparation, God’s Word will accomplish its purposes. He will “not allow it to return void” (Isa 55:11) and He will “speak edification, exhortation and comfort” to His Church (1 Cor 14:3).
All that to say I’m not sure what exactly the sermons will look like the next few weeks, months or years on Sunday mornings, but I know they will continue to be expositional and I will continue praying each week that God will use His Word “for the edification of the church” (1 Cor 4:12, 26), and so each member of the congregation can “be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (Eph 4:12; 2 Tim 3:17). I would covet your prayers for that to happen as well!