Monday, October 28, 2013

The Lectionary Trap

Yesterday we concluded our October sermon series on the book of 2nd Timothy.  It was great to be able to dwell on this important book of the New Testament, and it was an edifying experience for those in worship to be able to read the letter, essentially from beginning to end in a month's time.

At FUMCA, we follow the lectionary, but we spin things a little differently in that we build sermon series out of the selected texts.  For instance, during the season of Easter, we followed the Acts stream to study how the early church was build.  For the Summer, we followed the Gospel of Luke.  Then, in October we switched streams again to 2nd Timothy.

In doing things this way, it forces us to deal with the tough stuff and actually have an extended bible study in worship.

For instance, in doing a month long study in 2nd Timothy, we were able to pick up a few simple points each week for surviving tough times in ministry.

  1. In the first chapter, Paul points Timothy towards his family as a source of an authentic faith.
  2. In the second, Paul suggests that if Tim is facing tough times, he can look no further than the example of Paul, who follows the example of Christ.
  3. In the third, and beginning of the fourth chapters, Paul tells his student to read his Bible.  Not rocket science there.
  4. And the fourth, Paul wraps up his life's ministry, reminding all of us to be telling our stories.

Through studying one book over a few weeks, we were able to actually go somewhere with the texts.  It does take preparation, to be sure.

The lectionary is an awesome tool for planning worship, it keeps pastors from just preaching on what they're 'feeling' (not that that's always a bad thing ...).  But I do wonder whether we do a disservice to our congregations when we hop from one lectionary stream to another on a weekly basis.  Do we avoid tough topics when we do that?  Do we avoid the narrative of a book when we do that?

As a rookie preacher, I'm just wondering!  I also mean no disrespect to my elders here, just asking the questions.

Preachers: How do you prefer to structure your scriptural preaching patterns?
Congregants: What do you feel you need to hear?  Would you rather jump around, or follow a stream?