Who in the church leadership and how does the decision get made about how much emphasis (in terms of tangible percentage of minutes) to place of the ministry of the word in communal Sunday gatherings?
Perhaps, some of those decisions are decided within the denomination?
Within some denominations there could be strong traditions about the role of preaching. Or perhaps, in the history of a particular congregation, there are certain expectations regarding preaching.
How does one select the content for a Sunday message?
Some teaching pastors like to plan ahead and will opt for a short/medium/long term commitment to preach through a particular book in the Bible. A series through the books of 1 & 2 Corinthians would pencil in many months of the preaching schedule.
What are the “pros” and “cons” of this approach?
In some churches, the pastor will preach topical series. For example, eight weeks on family life or six weeks on the meaning of prayer or four weeks on how to serve in church.
Some of the more liturgical churches will follow the lectionary. The Revised Common Lectionary has a cycle of selected readings from both OT and NT set over a three-year period. Supporters of this approach say that this allows the congregation to be exposed to a good percentage of the Scriptures over time. Additionally, this approach avoids the “problem” of the pastor selecting from a narrow set of favorite passages to preach from.
In some cases, the pastor prays for a message and preaches to the need of the moment. Thus, it could be a text exposition or a topic exploration for the Sunday sermon. As such the text or topic will be different and unrelated from week to week.
What are the “pros” and “cons” about that approach?
In one sense Paul and the apostles wrote their letters to deal with a problem (a real need) in the churches they wrote to. They were guided by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration to write.
On the other hand, the “preach to the need” approach could result in a narrower preaching repertoire because of the strengths, interests, and experience of the pastor. A marriage and family type of pastor may lean toward sermons emphasizing relationships and less on doctrinal message. A pastor with a stronger Greek/Hebrew language orientation may gravitate to topics and passages where the peculiarities of those languages are highlighted. Or if the pastoral team all graduated from a particular seminary, they may tend to preach on subjects that seminary tends to emphasize. Thus, whatever background a pastor has, will the preaching wind up leaning toward their interests, training, and personality to the neglect of other matters. How does one resist that understandable inclination?
All of this to say, if you are a preaching pastor and you happen on this blog post, how do you approach your preaching? What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the approach you take?
May God bless the feet and words of those who tend the sheep and feed the lambs of God’s churches across the world!