Sundays seem to come about every seven days.
Most of us who preach prefer to just pick up our Bible and preach. But if you preach for every long at all you have to begin to evaluate what is most needed by a specific local church at a specific time. Is there a need for lessons on leadership, on modesty, on humility, on evangelism, on handling disaster and difficulties, on dealing with disappointment. Yes, yes and yes. But the skill of knowing what to preach when is a very real one. It is as it was with the sons of Issachar, “…men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…” (1 Ch. 12:32). One of the questions that most often comes to us at The Jenkins Institute is “How do we know what to preach each week?”
Beyond that the next challenge is what resources do we choose? Yes, our best is always to let the Bible be its own best interpreter and its on best commentary but even the sharpest of Bible students gets stuck sometimes with understanding a text, expositing a text, and applying a text properly. While the Internet has provided us with many more materials, this is not a case where more necessarily means better. Yes, there are more useful tools…but there is also much more junk out there. Sometimes with design skills and marketing savvy a false teacher can get more connection and influence than one who loves truth (Ro. 16:17-18). Has there even been more of a need for wise discernment (Pr. 15:21; He. 5:14)?
When David Shannon approached me about the need to emphasize certain important Bible words, the significance of preaching the meaning of those words and of solidifying their place in the church, I agreed. When he unveiled a team of guys to work on a project, it was exciting! As he talked more, it was of the many preachers who work full-time in the marketplace and struggle to eek out time for research and preparation.
We have noticed that in the church today, our Christian “vocabulary” is often lacking; we often use terms and just assume everyone knows what we mean. Our target audience would be any Christian who wants to learn more about some key terms in the Bible (grace, redemption, etc.). We envisioned a tool that would NOT provide a shortcut or write sermons for preachers but that would help them with their research on these words. We developed a list of nearly 100 Bible words and then narrowed that list down to one for each week for a year of Bible study.
Then we began to dream of a separate tool that would continue the lesson preached or taught on Sunday. We asked, “What if there was a resource that helped your congregation grow together for an entire year?” So we determined to lead in creating such a tool. To do that we invited 53 preachers to each write 5 daily devotionals to compliment the word emphasized that week. For instance if the word of the week was “kingdom,” there would be two tools. One would be for the preacher/teacher to aid them in the development of their lesson and the other would be a daily devotional thought for Monday through Friday of that week, each on the word “kingdom.”
The preacher/teacher resource includes three sections: “Understanding the Word” where the writer gives the meaning of the word in the original languages, “Reading the Word” that includes five biblical texts that show how the word is used in the Old and New Testament, and “Preaching the Word” which includes four of the following seven sermon helps: Introduction ideas for approaching the word in the sermon; Illustrations; Quotes; Applications; Object Lessons; and Invitation Song Ideas. We wanted to avoid complete sermon outlines, but asked our writers to feel free to include brief suggestions that could help each preacher formulate a sermon. The lessons are arranged in a logical sequence but each preacher/teacher can have the freedom to change the order to their own best uses.
Our next desire was to get this material to as many people as possible. What good is a useful resource if no one can see it. Each of the five of us committed to doing this for no personal pay or reimbursement. The congregations we are blessed to serve (Mount Juliet, Graymere and Spring Meadows) each provided funds to help make this project come to fruition. We have been able to put together a first class, matte finish, professionally produced, roughly 300 page devotional book that we can make available for $3 per book. It is our hope that a congregation will make these available for 2017 for each member or family in their congregation. Imagine a church of roughly 100 members being able to provide a book that unites the entire congregation in an important and faith-building study for an full year for $300. The preacher/teacher tool will cost roughly $4 and will include both a book and a digital download of that material. This will help the congregation in a much needed emphasis of great words from God’s Word.
You can read all about it and contact us or order resources at OneWordStudy.com.
Dale is the minister of the Spring Meadows Church of Christ in Spring Hill, TN.