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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"A Preacher's Guide to Lectionary Sermon Series" (Multiple contributors)

TITLE: A Preacher's Guide to Lectionary Sermon Series: Thematic Plans for Years A, B, and C
AUTHOR: Multiple contributors
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016, (320 pages).

What should I be preaching next week? How do I plan out the sermon series for the year? Should I do a Bible book or should I go topical? These questions often plague preachers all over the world. Sometimes, there is an inspiration toward certain themes of the Bible, or a random toggling between an Old Testament book followed by a New Testament letter. Other times, people just base their choices on pet topics. Enters the use of the lectionary that combines the thematic structures as well as covering the entire Bible over three years. It guides the Church not only in observing the Church seasons of the year, it helps preachers to plan their worship themes. With the lectionary as a common guide, other preachers can easily follow along. That includes guest preachers. In the Foreword, Amy Butler lists reasons for using the lectionary:

  • Preaching is not about the preacher but about truth of God
  • There is no fear in going back to the same texts because the Word of God is infinitely insightful
  • It enables one to connect and communicate with other preachers
  • Using the lectionary helps one avoid preaching on the basis of what people want but on what the Word of God directs
  • There is a consistency in format and structure to bring out the best in seasonal and series-based preaching
  • .... and several more.
In this guide, we have twelve different experienced preachers from five major denominations giving us their series overview; tips and ideas; sermon frameworks; notes for preaching; and big ideas. The sermon starters are helpful in giving us an example on how to capture the attention of listeners right from the start. 

The following is the list of contributors:
  • Robert Dannals; Winnie Varghese (Episcopal)
  • Amy Butler (Baptist)
  • Katherine Willis Pershey (Congregational)
  • Magrey R. deVega; Brian Erickson; Jessica LaGrone; Martin Thielen (Methodist)
  • Theresa Cho; Mihee Kim-Kort; Cleophus J. LaRue; Jacqueline J. Lewis; Paul Rock (Presbyterian)

Each year follows a similar seasonal series that begins with the Advent, and moves toward Epiphany, Lenten, Easter, Summer, and Fall. The themes are:

Year A: Salvation, Promise, Preparation, Resurrection, Pentecost, Hope, Encouragement, Thanksgiving, Stewardship
Year B: Expectation, Jesus, Covenant, Faith, Faith and Action, True Discipleship, Stewardship
Year C: Waiting, Light, God's work in Jesus, Pentecost, God Cares, Faith and Meaning, Discipleship.

Making things easier is the calendar of preaching themes toward the end of the book for quick reference. I must say that this guide is a godsend for people who needed a consistent and systematic way to plan their preaching through the year. Some people tend to use common themes that people think they need or trendy topics for the occasion. While these are useful and relevant for many, it might miss out the key messages of truth in the Bible. After all, the Church is a Bible-believing people of God, not a trend-following people of the world. The Revised Common Lectionary is a great tool to help us to guide us in adopting the Word and to avoid the follies of adapting to the world. By covering the entire Bible in three years, readers are encouraged to see the big picture of God's plan so as to help them grow in their knowledge and practice of the Word.

It is hoped that the lectionary will not only equip preachers to teach and preach the Word for the three years but to develop a consistent approach in preaching the entire counsel of God instead of choice pieces or pet topics. There are at least three reasons to use this lectionary guide. First, it helps us plan in advance and to communicate the topics and preaching details to the rest of the congregation. That way, members can be encouraged to read ahead and to prepare themselves to hear the message for the week. Second, it is a very consistent way of delivering the message. The structure forces us to hit all cylinders regardless of how we feel about any of the sections. Sometimes in preaching, there is a tendency for us to preach according to our comfort levels. With the structure in place, we are guided to speak on areas that are important to the hearers. Third, the practice aspect is not left out. In fact, the hearers are encouraged to put into practice the preaching of the Word. This is not simply about the work done after the service or the preaching. It can provide unifying themes for worship teams and serving members to plan and to be sensitive to the overall thrust of the message.

I recommend this resource highly for preaching.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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