It seems to be a recent trend among a lot of contemporary churches to not inundate people with multiple messages each week, but to be more intentional about the teaching path that is presented each week. You see this most in two fairly common practices: 1) preaching in series to stay focused on a core theme for a few weeks; and 2) having small groups discuss the past Sunday’s sermon to personalize the message with practical application as well as delving deeper into the message and passages.
We are not that far removed from the church practices that I cut my teeth on as a young preacher a few years ago. I remember on one occasion I sought to determine how many lesson plans and delivered sermons/classes that I would do in a year. It went something like this. I had to prepare for a Sunday morning Bible class, the Sunday morning sermon, a Sunday afternoon training class, the Sunday night sermon, the Wednesday night Bible class, the Wednesday night “sermonette” when all the classes came together, plus for a number of those years a lesson for the young people on Friday night. That’s seven lesson preps as well as weddings, funerals, seminars and brotherhood speaking engagements. While some of this didn’t happen every week, you can see the strain on the preacher to come up with 300-400 different lessons each year!
But what about the overload on the hearers of those messages? How could one apply the Sunday morning lesson when you didn’t have time for it to germinate before another lesson flooded your brain? No wonder we had a lot of shallow Christians, or had many with a certain retention of Bible knowledge but weren’t very focused on applying it to their daily lives or sharing with a lost world.
I like the simpler approach of today’s churches: develop an appropriate message for the week and have practices that help implement it into the lifestyles of the members. Currently, I preach a Sunday message; it’s taught again in our small groups; and many people use the materials for their daily devotional times. It’s also posted on our website in audio form with downloadable printed notes. And now, we’re going to expand the weekly message to this blog where the sermon each Monday will be presented in a concise “sermon-in-a-nutshell” form for you to absorb even more.
Some call it the “Big Idea” approach. Whatever, it’s good to take time to process and practice what’s preached.