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when it’s never enough – robyn mellar-smith

frustration

As the main preacher of a church community, one of my favourite things to do is to preach through a book of the Bible. You never know what is going to come up and I think that working through a whole book is the “steak” of the preaching year, particularly for those members of the congregation who are in the Sunday service most weeks. If our small groups focus on the passage as well, then people feel like they have really journeyed with a book of the Bible, and there can be tangible growth and transformation.

At the moment I am preparing for a study of the book of Proverbs through October. I am challenging the congregation to read the chapter pertaining to the date each day, i.e. on the 1st Oct read chapter 1, 2nd chapter 2 etc. We will have six sermons from the book, from the end of September to the beginning of November. Obviously these will be on topical themes rather than working through the book chapter by chapter, but I am looking forward to the challenge!

My problem is that no matter how much pre-reading I do and no matter how good my intentions are, I never really get to the depth that I would like. Pastoral situations interfere with study time. Sermons have to be prepared on the hop. And I tend to finish series like this feeling as though we never went as deep, nor covered as much as I would have liked to.

There is a part of me that gets anxious about this. I know that there is often so much more that I could have offered. Like knowing all the different types of food and only offering people bread and water…

But, on the other hand, I really believe that the stuff that truly matters in a sermon comes from God and not me, and I choose to trust that God is working even when I feel like I have not done enough preparation or dug deep enough. I know that bread and water mediated to us by God’s Spirit is far more valuable than steak without the breath of God to warm it and apply it to our lives.

How about you? When you preach through a book do you feel this frustration? Or do you have any tips for working out the crucial things that must be covered in a book study?

One Comment

  1. Roger Driver-Burgess says:

    Hey, Robyn.
    I know just what you mean! I also preached through Proverbs earlier this year, and am just finishing the last half of a series on Revelation. And there is always far more to say than a single sermon on any text can cover. And every hour of study I do tells me that there are another ten hours of study I could be doing. In the end, like you, I simply have to trust that God will work with the little I do and trust his sovereign will. Kia kaha!

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