Benefits of Preaching through Books of the Bible: An Excerpt from Small Church, Excellent Ministry

Book Cover

The following excerpt is taken from chapter 4 of our recently released book, Small Church, Excellent Ministry: A Guidebook for Pastors. This chapter was written by Dr. Bo Rice. 

When it comes to weekly preparation, some of the wisest counsel I received early in my ministry is to preach through books of the Bible. As Vines and Shaddix state, “Numerous benefits surface when the truth of God’s Word is exposed, especially through the systematic preaching of a Bible book.”[1] Biblical literacy continues to wane in the United States. This increase in biblical literacy has caused the task of making disciples more difficult in the local church. Pastors are faced with preaching to congregations who are less likely to have any understanding of some of the most basic biblical stories and concepts. Vines and Shaddix state that “this scenario leaves the preacher with two options: either resign to the the generation by minimizing the role of the Bible in his preaching or determine to change the generation by systematically teaching the Scriptures. Systematic exposition, especially, enhances knowledge of the Bible.”[2] A thorough exegetical study and preaching through books of the Bible help preachers to become better communicators of biblical truth and the congregation to become more knowledgeable students of the Word.

A second benefit to preaching through books of the Bible is that it holds the preacher accountable. The preacher is held accountable for preaching what the Bible says and not what he wants to say. Preachers who approach the sermon with serious study know that they speak from the authority of the Scripture. Staying true to expositional delivery ensures that the preacher is conveying the intended truth of every text and not from the preacher’s views or opinions. Also, biblical exposition holds the preacher accountable to work diligently. It is laborious work to prepare sermons each week that hold true to the intended meaning of each text in succession. Finally, the pastor is held accountable through expositional preaching by dealing with texts that would be easy to skip over. Systematic exposition forces the pastor to faithfully deal with the full counsel of God’s Word.

A third benefit to preaching through books of the Bible is relieving the pastor from worrying about what to preach. Many pastors who do not preach through books of the Bible report feelings of anxiety in finding the perfect text each week. These pastors often take the “Barber Shop” approach to preaching—listening to the latest talk, concerns, and often gossip in the community, and then finding a text that may or may not address the situation. If the preacher will commit to faithful, systematic exposition, then he knows exactly what text he will be preaching every Monday he begins his study and preparation.

A fourth benefit to systematic exposition is appetite development in the congregation. Vines and Shaddix state, “Systematic exposition gives people an appetite for the Word that prompts them to go home and search the Scriptures for themselves.”[3] Systematic exposition encourages the congregation to become better students and even teachers of the Word. This, in turn, leads to further spiritual maturity for the pastor and the congregation.

Finally, there are practical benefits to systematic exposition. This type of preaching helps the pastor plan his preaching schedule for greater periods of time. Also, understanding the background to each text is much easier when you are systematically preaching through the same book each week. There is very little need to do much background study each week when you already put that time in at the beginning of your study of a particular book. This approach will save you a great deal of time as you prepare week after week.

[1]Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix, Power in the Pulpit (Chicago: Moody, 1999), 32.

[2]Ibid., 33.

[3]Ibid., 36.

The Changing Picture of Faces in America

multiethnic

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of Small Church, Excellent Ministry: A Guidebook for Pastors, written by Dr. Page Brooks. His chapter specifically looked at “Multiethnic Ministry in the Small Church.” The below is used with permission from Wipf & Stock Publishers.

Why should our churches be multi-ethnic? They are some practical reasons that multi-ethnic churches need to exist in America.

First, we are experiencing an increase in immigration in the United States. From the cities to the rural area, immigration is having a huge influence. Cities experience immigrants and refugees as they settle due to governmental relocation programs, settling with family, or for job opportunities. Immigrants also exist in large populations in rural area, often around farming communities. There is almost no place in the United States that a person cannot go with seeing the affects of immigrants.

Second, urbanization is also creating cities that are multi-ethnic. In the next decade or two, there will be more people living in cities than in rural areas for the first time in history. Urbanization has created cities that are no longer mono-ethnic, but are attracting people from all around the world. The affect is not only in larger cities, but now in smaller towns as well. The urbanization creates opportunities for churches that can literally reach the world within their own city.

Third, the denominations in the United States have a long history of systemic racism. By “systemic racism,” I mean that many of our denominations were formed because of the separation of the races in the earliest history of the United States. Often whites worshipped separately from black slaves. If they did worship together, the slaves were often seated separately. Several new denominations were formed due to these separations. For example, the African Methodist Episcopal church (and its forerunners) was founded because blacks worshipped separately from whites in the early Protestant Episcopal Church.

Today, whether intentionally or not, denominations continue the separation. Yes, worship styles and preferences have now developed over the decades and even centuries. But, an opportunity now exists in our society to correct the racism that developed at the founding of the United States. With the increase in immigration, travel to and from other countries, and technology that unites the world, churches have an opportunity like never before to truly be a local manifestation of the heavenly vision from Revelation for all the ethnicities of the world to worship together in a local church.

Hospitality in the Church

ChurchHospitality-01

“Hello Dr. Farmer. It’s great to see you back again.” Becca the restaurant manager greeted me on Saturday evening. I had eaten dinner in the hotel restaurant the night before and decided to eat there again. After all, they had elk jerky.

Julia, my waitress, also remembered me. “A cup of coffee and a glass of water? How would you like to try the meatloaf sliders?”

In the first three minutes of sitting down in the restaurant, I felt welcomed and cared for. Is there any wonder why I returned for dinner? Hospitality is important in the service industry. It’s more important for the church.

Hospitality in the Church

The Caskey Center, in partnership with Lifeway Research and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, conducted research on small churches and personal evangelism last year. One of the interesting insights discovered was that though all churches in the study used greeters and encouraged members to be friendly with guests and non-Christians, the most evangelistically effective churches (Top 20% of churches who retained new commitments to Christ) placed a high value on hospitality.

Hospitality inside the Church

Hospitality inside the church refers to welcoming and loving guests who attend your church’s services. This means more than just holding the doors open and greeting people. It is more than handing out bulletins. A proper greeter will be smiling, friendly, and will anticipate any needs the guest may have. A well trained greeter understands that visiting a church can be very intimidating and will strive to allay any fears.

Hospitable churches go beyond the greeter. The more effective churches also teach church members to be friendly to guests every week. An attender would expect the church staff to be friendly. The attender would appreciate a group of volunteer greeters. But when the attender sees that the whole church body loves him/her that makes a big difference. When the whole church body is friendly, caring, and concerned, it communicates the love of Christ. This is what the guest has been searching for in life.

Hospitality outside the Church

Hospitality is not just something we reserve for when people darken the doors of our churches. It is an extension of the gospel. It is about showing the love of Christ to those who are estranged from God. As Willis and Clements noted in their book, The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life, “At its core, the practice of biblical hospitality is obeying the command in Romans 15:7 to ‘welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.’ It’s receiving others into our lives—into relationship and, yes, even into our homes.”

Hospitality outside the church requires us to be friendly to non-Christians we meet. Missional hospitality teaches us to utilize the relationships we inevitably build from our friendliness as a way to share the gospel.

 

Implications

In light of the findings, the best way to prepare for guests to your church is to be hospitable outside the church and to treat guests in your church as you would guests in your home. Here are five practical tips for exercising hospitality in your church:

  1. Learn first names quickly and use them often.
  2. Have greeters in the parking lot to welcome and guide guests to where they need to go.
  3. Have large golf umbrellas on hand for rainy days. Walk guests to and from their vehicles.
  4. Ask ice breaker questions to find out something about the guests. If they don’t know anyone in the church family, introduce them to someone with something in common.
  5. Have church members prepared to invite guests to lunch (either at home or in a restaurant).

What practices of hospitality would you add to this list? Comment below.

Getting Small Churches on Mission, Part 1

My friend, Ed Stetzer, wrote a chapter in our book, Small Church, Excellent Ministry. Today he posted a blog  reflecting four big-picture ways for smaller churches to begin moving toward mission.

Be sure to read his blog today and part 2 tomorrow.

No Restraints 2018

NoRestraintsCropped

Are you a minister serving in a smaller membership church and looking for a resource that will be refreshing and instructional? The No Restraints Conference is the resource for you. Registration has opened for this FREE conference at NOBTS.

Come to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for a time of fellowship and training. This free conference will allow you and your wife to worship and pray with other bi-vocational and smaller membership church ministers, as well as learn some new skills to assist with your ministry.

For more information and to register, click here.

 

 

Simple Evangelism Presentations

einstein

There are many personal evangelism presentations available for believers. I was recently asked what was my personal favorite approach to personal evangelism. After I gave my answer, I began to think about why it was my favorite and if there were others that met the same criteria.

  1. Based on the Bible

The first criterion for my preferred personal evangelism presentations is that it must be based on scripture. Paul stated in 1 Cor. 15 that the gospel he preached, we must also preach. That gospel is “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to Scriptures.” As he continued, he was adamant to point the Corinthians (and us) back to the Scriptures. The Bible says that in order to proclaim the Word of God, we must use the Word of God.

  1. Easy to Learn

The second criterion is that the presentation must be easy to learn. I believe that teaching a new believer to share his or her new faith should come early in the process of disciplemaking. In fact, I think a new believer should be encouraged to share that faith within the first hour. The simplest way to do this is to have the new believer share the gospel presentation that was shared with him/her. Therefore, it must be easy to learn.

  1. Easy to Teach

It’s not enough for a new believer to learn the gospel, the new believer must also be confident enough to teach others to share the gospel. Therefore, the presentation must be easy to teach.

Resources

There are a number of great, simple gospel presentations. Here are some that are available online:

One Verse Evangelism This presentation is available from the Navigators. It was written by Randy Raysbrook. The presentation is based on Romans 6:23, and utilizes the bridge illustration.

https://www.navigators.org/Tools/Evangelism%20Resources/Tools/One-Verse%20Evangelism-%20How%20to%20Share%20Christ-s%20Love%20C

Steps to Peace With God This resource was created by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. It was originally developed as a tract, but is useful as an outline to a gospel presentation.

Step ONE: God loves you and wants you to experience peace and life- abundant and eternal.
Step TWO: We choose to disobey God and go our own willful way. This results in separation from God.
Step THREE: Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the grave. He paid the penalty for our sin and bridged the gap between God and people.
Step FOUR: We must trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and receive Him by personal invitation.

https://peacewithgod.net

John 3:16 One Verse Evangelism This presentation is similar to the Navigators presentation in that it utilizes a version of the bridge illustration. This version uses John 3:16 as the basis of the gospel.

http://gbcchurchplants.com/pdfs/One%20Verse%20Evangelism%20(John%203-16).pdf

Wordless Book This resource is great to use with children or anyone who is an oral learner. It uses five colors to communicate the gospel:

GOLD God wants us to be in heaven with Him.
BLACK Our sin separates us from God.
RED Christ died on the cross as the only payment for our sin.
WHITE Accept God’s forgiveness and the free gift of eternal life.
GREEN Grow closer to God every day.

http://www.cefonline.com/download/wordless-book-pdf/

Four Spiritual Laws This is better used as a tract, but it is possible to learn the four laws as the basis of a gospel presentation. Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) developed this approach.

1. God loves you and created you to know Him personally.

2. Man is sinful and separated from God, so we cannot know Him personally or experience His love.

3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him alone we can know God personally and experience God’s love.

4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know God personally and experience His love.

http://knowgod.com/en/fourlaws/?utm_source=4laws&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=4laws-visit&utm_content=english

 

Gospel Appointments Resource

walk

I had the pleasure of meeting with the Baptist Collegiate Network this evening. This is a network of leaders in Baptist Collegiate Ministries. These guys are passionate about making disciple-making disciples on the nation’s college campuses.

While meeting with them, I learned of a great resource for evangelism. It is the Gospel Appointments website. Be sure to check out this website which details a very simple approach to meeting people and sharing the gospel.

The Gospel Appointments approach was designed to help college students meet and share the gospel with other college students. However, it is not limited to just college students. Check out this resource, set up an appointment, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Meeting Needs in Your Community

Here is an interesting article about one of our Caskey Center churches. Tom Bilderback is the pastor of Vieux Carre Baptist Church in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He has served in this community for the past 5 years.

Vieux Carre Baptist Church has exegeted their community, and determined the best approach to reaching the lost. The article points out that the church has a significant ministry to the homeless people of New Orleans, but their focus is not on providing care for the homeless. The focus is on reaching the lost in the community. To accomplish this task, Vieux Carre Baptist Church provides care for the homeless.

What does your community look like? What are the needs of the people within your community? How can you match your church members’ ministry gifts and abilities with the needs of the community? Answering these questions will help you identify an effective strategy for meeting needs and sharing Christ in the community.