Sermons speaking to the needs of the body

Sermons speaking to the needs of the bodyI 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!

9 thoughts on “Sermons speaking to the needs of the body

  1. So often topical preaching can stray into *opinion* on a subject, and allows reshaping of singular verses to fit needs (wants). We are thankful to have a Pastor who strives to teach from the Word instead of opinion, clearly defining when straying into speculation. We particularly love verse-by-verse learning because it gives a whole picture (we grew up with thematic Sunday School – which I feel left me lacking so many of the minority stories, fluidity, and big-picture sense), but also appreciate that you allow for God to pave the way, providing topics when led.

    We are thankful for the opportunity to glean BOTH styles right now, as your midweek study is walking us through a book, verse by verse – and Sunday morning is providing subjects for a time. There is a time and a season for everything!

    Most of all, we appreciate that you so obviously continue to seek God’s will in all things. We are thankful for you.

    1. Summer,
      Thank you very much for this comment. It was particularly encouraging to me, b/c I’ve thought of some of the conversations we’ve had regarding strictly verse-by-verse messages through a book. I know it’s your preference (and in many ways it’s my preference too!), so I even thought about you when writing this post.

      Yes, I appreciate you recognizing the availability of both. I think one of the reasons I’ve felt comfortable doing what I’m doing during sermons, is there’s verse-by-verse through Hebrews and Revelation during Sunday School and Wednesday night…which I also thoroughly enjoy.

      We’re very thankful you guys too. Can’t wait for Camp 🙂

  2. Hi Scott,

    Your diligent prayerful preparation and love for your flock is readily apparent in all aspects of your ministry. We are truly blessed to be under your leadership.

    Lynn Arthur

  3. I think Christ Himself set a great example in this. He did not find it necessary to go verse by verse through the Old Testament as He walked with men and taught them in His preaching. He addressed the people where they were at. He used parables and the like to teach people in a way that they could understand and “take home with them”. As long as Pastors are making the Word of God the authority and foundation of their teaching and preaching, I see nothing wrong with praying for God to lead you as Christ was led during His teaching ministry. As long as pastors are not shying away from passages deliberately and as long as their pattern and intent is to teach the whole counsel of God, I don’t think it matters which format you take in doing so. Thankful that you teach with the Word of God and His Spirit as your Director, not the opinions, desires and thoughts of men. Thankful to watch you grow as a pastor, teacher, shepherd and man of God! Thankful your heart is for the people of WCC to grow in their knowledge and understanding of God, His Word and His will. Keep up the faithful, God fearing work that He is working and finishing in you! So proud of you! love, your wife

    1. Thank you My Love!

      You’re a huge part of every sermon, all the time you allow me to go over it with you, let me know when it’s confusing, provide beneficial thoughts. Really the sermons wouldn’t be what they are w/o your help. God really blessed me when He gave you to me!

  4. When I was at The Oasis Church, I preached through 1 Timothy, Galatians, (thematically through) Proverbs, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Acts, Nehemiah, and Luke. I did a one-year series following various teachings of Jesus, a few series like “Security Briefing” (where I discussed various issues of concern that I had for members of the congregation. I always did at least 3 weeks on Christmas, always a New Years message, always an Easter message (though on 2 occasions the text we were in during verse-by-verse series were perfect for easter — so — bam!), and did topical messages on very rare occasions. I felt the same things you expressed in your post as I got to know the people in the church. There were a few people who thought I wasn’t topical enough, then I showed them all of the topics we covered in the verse-by-verse teaching which quieted that criticism down a bit. If I was pastoring again I would follow the same pattern – choose a book, work through it together, then go to the next one. But I would also make room for more series now and then, and no matter what, I would always choose a text and work through it as an exposition — especially if there was a topic of concern that I needed to work through. This is because a WHOLE text is better (in my opinion) than a smattering of disconnected texts that are not in the same book . The Bible is not a topical book (though it contains topics beyond number). It’s a grand story, a narrative, an adventure that spans from Creation to New Creation. It’s the story we get to join! So I would stay in the story, and encourage the people to join the story and live the story along with the great cloud of witnesses who walked before us. I think verse-by-verse preaching is a dying art and I hope for a generation of preachers who continue to value it as an important way to feed God’s people. My exhortation to topical preachers is… “NO, expository preaching isn’t “biblical” — in other words, there is not a command in scripture to teach it that way — but… learn to do it anyway.” Teach on!

    1. Hello Kenny,

      Even when “teaching topically” it’s still generally done verse-by-verse if that makes sense…just hasn’t been straight through a book of the bible every sermon. But always still expositionally.

      Thanks for the encouragement Brother.

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