Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Enormous Mission of Preaching the Word

I've been preaching since I was fifteen, but I've only been diligent in keeping any sort of record of my preaching for the past few years. The sermon calendaring program I've been writing for myself for several years now (it is a web application written in C# for Microsoft's ASP.NET framework) contains pretty complete records of my Sunday morning preaching since 2004. Sunday evening and Wednesday evening data is spotty before 2007.

The application not only helps me to look forward in scheduling my sermons, but also helps me to look backwards in analysis of what I have been preaching. Here's a bit of number-crunching for you.

There are 1189 chapters in the Bible. I have records of sermons from 285 of those chapters, leaving 904 chapters of the Bible from which I have no record of having preached in my nine years at Farmersville. That's no record of having preached from those chapters at any time during the week. Those 904 chapters constitute (chapter-wise) 76% of the Bible.

I have preached more sermons out of Leviticus 19 than any other chapter of the Bible, according to these records. I preached a Sunday evening series out of that chapter once upon a time. Exodus 20 comes in second (the 10 commandments). On the other hand, a book-by-book analysis shows that the gospels in particular and the New Testament in general get far more preaching attention from me than does the Old Testament. This falls in line with my persuasion that the New Testament ought to get more attention from New Testament Christians than does the Old Testament. Don't twist my words as permission to ignore the Old Testament—I preach from the Old Testament a great deal, but primacy of place must go to the New Testament.

It is possible, preaching from a different chapter at each of three meetings a week, to preach from each chapter of the Bible in as little as seven years and seven months, but I'm not anywhere near on-track for accomplishing that pace (nor do I wish to). Eighty chapters of the Bible have provided more than one sermon for me, and some portions of the Bible merit a bit more attention. For example, the Ten Commandments can easily produce ten sermons from one chapter, while the story of David and Goliath is probably a self-contained sermon.

Lesson learned: I'll not live long enough to preach the entire Bible as it ought to be preached. The task is a lifetime calling.

22 comments:

Luke said...

Bart,
Interesting topic. Right at 6 years ago, I started preaching in Genesis 1:1 on Wednesday nights. Here now, 6 years later, we have made it as far as Leviticus 10. Going verse by verse, sometimes simply reading those that are repetitive, there are many "jewels" that would have normally been missed in my reading. I must say though that I cannot wait to get into Numbers and study all of those tribes. :)

smithwe said...

Bart,
The Pastor that Baptized me, Preached from the book of John for 2 years, almost every Sunday. We had small groups, which were made up of new members led by a couple/disciples. Out of that Church 8 young Boys/Men went on to be Pastors. Today one of those young Men/Pastors has a Church with 4000 members. God’s word is So Rich that many Sermons can be preached from one Chapter.

In His Name
Wayne

Chris Johnson said...

Bart,

There is a lot to be said for reading the word and then explaining it! Thanks for reminding us that preaching the word is what we are called to do!

We should be reminded of this often!

Blessings,
Chris

Jeff said...

Bart,

Any chance you would be willing to make that program available to all of us. I would be very interested in it.

- Jeff

Bart Barber said...

Luke,

I have no doubt but that God will reward both you and your congregation for your commitment to biblical preaching.



Wayne,

Indeed, knowing that the preaching of the Bible is a task beyond any one person, we hope and pray that our diligent preaching of the word will raise up other laborers to join us. It appears that God has thusly blessed your pastor.


Chris,

Gladly.


Jeff,

I have been revising the program to make it available as a web site for multiple users. Alas, I always think of something more that I could add, and then the project lengthens.

Also, I dread the idea of receiving technical support requests!

Nevertheless, I just need to put it out there sometime soon.

Jonathon said...

For a young preacher like myself, preaching every week for two years now, I am going to take your post and use it.

I never thought of tracking what I was preaching. Thanks.

kws said...

Thanks for the post, Bart. Mark Dever is a big fan of tracking sermons. Recently, I sat down and developed a strategy to preach verse by verse through the entire Bible. According to the pace we are on, it will only take 42 years. I have no idea if the Lord will allow me to live that long, (I'm 36) but at least there is a plan if He does. Blessings

Ben Macklin said...

Brother Bart -

If only more people could say of their in their own towns what Paul says in Acts 20:26-27 (cf. Ezek. 3:17-19). He preached to ALL without counting the personal cost. Do you think we preachers model the general lack of evangelistic preaching by staying among our own too much?

your constituent,

Ben

Grosey's Messages said...

I estimated this morning that I had spent close to 45,000 hours in researching the scriptures for preaching. ...
And I still hold that the Bible is inerrant and that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only Saviour and that no one comes to the Father but by Him.
Steve

Bro. Matt said...

Bart,

I may be wrong, but it seems that so many Sunday morning services are nothing but evangelistic. Now, while this is not a bad thing, for it is needed and part of a Biblical teaching program, I believe that through the preaching of the entire Bible the Lord's churches will be strengthened. In other words, if we will preach the hard, discipling words of the Old and New Testament, instead of the "easy" salvation sermons, then the Lord's people will hopefully gain more meat of the word. Just some thoughts.

Question: Is it possible that the Lord's churches are not being revived, not because of a lack of desire to correct ourselves, but because of a lack of understanding of whom God is?!?

Anonymous said...

Vernon McGee managed to get through the Bible in 5 years. He could have started all over again and talked about something different than the first time every day.

smithwe said...

Bart and All,

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

The biggest problem with the people is that they don’t really know God. If you really Love someone you want to Know all about them. So for your Sermon outlines use (The London Confession of Baptist Faith 1689). By preaching the Bible verses supporting each Chapter. I do believe this is one of the Best ways of Knowing God and the Baptist Church.



In His Name
Wayne

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Jeff,

You write; "Any chance you would be willing to make that program available to all of us. Great concept, however, you have one problem. Brother Bart is somewhat of a perfectionist. I heard about this program from him over a year ago. So, you can believe my excitement when he told of this tracking program he has developed.

We will probably see this program about the time that Brother Luke (our first commenter in this comment stream) gets to the book of the Revelation.

:>)

Blessings,
Tim

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wayne,

You write; "So for your Sermon outlines use (The London Confession of Baptist Faith 1689). By preaching the Bible verses supporting each Chapter. I do believe this is one of the Best ways of Knowing God and the Baptist Church." Not trying to be difficult, but do you realize what you are advocating? It seems that you are saying the God had in mind London Confession when He inspired the writers of Scripture to pen the words.

I do not believe that is what you are saying, but to say it that way, would be no different than Mormons to say the Scripture is hard to understand without the Book of Mormons to guide you.

Blessings,
Tim

Luke said...

Matt,
What you said has intrigued me. Preaching through the entire counsel of God(the Bible) makes sense because this is how we have record of His revelation to man, both the written word and the Incarnate Word. Preaching Jesus every Sunday(actually everyday) is what is truly needed. But it does take time, effort and patience which a lot of pastors either do not take the time to do or are so busy with hands on ministry that they do not have enough time to do. It will forever be the challenge but I believe this is why the early church chose Stephen and the others to "wait on tables", so that the Word and prayer would not be neglected. You are on to something here.

volfan007 said...

i also preach verse by verse thru books of the bible. we just finished the gospel of john not too long ago. it took over a year and a half for us to finish....and, i preached it sunday am and pm and wednesday night. now, we're on a journey thru philippians!

bart, this post is a good one. i agree with matt....our churches need to feed on all the Word of God if they are to grow up to be strong christians.

david

smithwe said...

Tim Rogers,
Tim Rogers, Just some Food for Thought.

Do you provide an outline with questions on Your Sermons or do you just read Bible Verses. Have you ever really looked at and read the (The London Confession of Baptist Faith 1689). More Men participated in forming this Document than our present framers of our confession of faith.
Why compare Christianity to Mormonism which wasn’t around when The Westminster Confession was Framed and the London Confession of Baptist Faith 1689 was Framed?

In His Name
Wayne

smithwe said...

Tim Rogers,
I am just sharing things that I have Witnessed as a Laymen, in my Time as a Born Again Believer that “Convicted Hearts” for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and Knowing God.
As I have said many times before that I am a Food for Thought kind of Persons, who has traveled the world for many years.

In His Name
Wayne

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wayne,

You are straining gnats and swallowing camels. I have not compared Christianity to Mormonism, that is what you have said I have done. What I have said is that your analysis and suggestion to use the London Confession to explain the verses that are attached to each section is what the Mormons do with the Book of Mormons.

Blessings,
Tim

Grosey's Messages said...

I guess that depends on whether you want to make London confessional Baptists or you want to make mature disciples of Christ..Ephesians 4:13 is the goal toward which we hope to attain:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:


and doctrinal soundness is the by-product:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

Steve

Ron P. said...

Bart,

I believe Dr. Criswell took almost 18 years to preach through the Bible. Though I am not sure, I seem to remember him saying that he preached two different sermons on Sunday mornings during that time. So he did it in that length of time by preaching three sermons a week.

Ron P.

Tom Bryant said...

Bart,
This is a terrific challenge. It is also not just a challenge for a lifetime of preaching, but a challenge for a lifetime of preaching in one church. That is, to preach through God's Word in one place furing my ministry.

Thanks.