The sermon outlines by Dr. Stephen Olford (published bi-weekly on this blog) illustrate the depth and the breadth of Scripture. The outlines do this because they are on different texts and a variety of truths.
This leads me to share a planning tool with you.
A number of years ago I put together a simple form, a preaching plan. The form was made to make a point and a suggestion concerning the selection of texts for sermon preparation.
Let me explain it.
The form lists every book of the Bible. Then there are seven columns (side-by-side), one column for each year for seven years. Then, the years are filled in, each year having 78 messages. Over a seven-year period, preaching or teaching twice a week for thirty-nine weeks in the year, I suggest various amounts of sermons from every book in the Bible.
So, over a seven-year period, at least one sermon/lesson is presented from each of the 66 books of the Bible. One message is the least amount per book (ex, Obadiah), and twenty-two sermons/lessons are the most recommended for any Biblical book (Acts).
By the way, twice a week could include a Sunday morning sermon and then another sermon within the week or a Bible study. Of course, this plan could be followed in two weekly Bible studies as well.
The 546 total messages (78 a year) are nearly spread evenly between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Every year messages from one of the Gospels are included. At the same time, there is variety each year. The whole sequence within each year and the various years themselves can be changed in any way a preacher would want to change them.
The idea behind thirty-nine weeks (a year) is that the remaining thirteen weeks could include special Sundays, other speakers, a special short series, and for weeks not preaching. If desired, of course, the preacher/teacher may add other opportunities as well!
Why did I put this form together? Do I really think that many people will actually follow this type of preaching plan? Maybe not, and certainly not in the details.
But, I am trying to make a point. As preachers consider what messages they should be preaching, it is good to remember that our Bible is made up of 66 books!
The conviction behind my “preaching plan” form is that there is a sovereign reason for having God’s Revelation in 66 different books. We don’t have 10 similar books or a systematic theology. We have 66 different inspired documents and each one is an important part of God’s special revelation to us.
I believe that depth in preaching/teaching can be matched and maintained with breadth. So, if our concern is to preach the “whole counsel of God” over time, one way to do that is to seek to present the primary truths found in each Biblical book. This approach to text selection will also help people to see Scripture interpreting Scripture consistently.
Of course, there are numerous other ways to plan preaching/teaching in the life of the church.
I fully appreciate the need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to be aware of the needs of the congregation of God’s people at a given time. I am also aware that any plan for preaching needs to be submitted to the Lord and can be changed or interrupted at any given moment.
But, our “sourcebook” for preaching and teaching is the Bible. Having a “big picture” plan may help the preacher recognize gaps that need to be filled in during different seasons of ministry.
We know that we are to preach Christ and to be Gospel-centered. We know that we are to preach “the faith” (Jude 3), the apostolic doctrines of the faith must be taught (Acts 2:42), indeed “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). We also know that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable….” (2 Timothy 3:16).
So, we can preach and teach from the whole Bible. We, also, know that all preaching (from text selection to “follow-up”) is to take place in prayer and with dependence on the Holy Spirit.
So, don’t take my “preaching plan” too seriously. Do take the Scriptures seriously and the great task of “rightly dividing the word of truth” in the power of the Holy Spirit.