for the Local Church
Building the Body of Christ through Biblical Teaching
This page is intended as a resource to local church pastor/teachers but will be useful to others as well. While much of the following focuses on the local congregational church, the principles apply equally to the balanced feeding of house churches.
Random Teaching Inadequate: Much local church teaching is planned a month or two ahead. In some cases a week or less. Such teaching tends to reinforce the pastor's favorite stories and themes, which may be good, but not comprehensive in a way that prepares the local church for all of life.
Reasons for a Comprehensive Plan of consistent solid biblical teaching include:
1. Solid foundations are essential for Christian growth and health of character and ministry.
2. Solid foundations help protect believers from false teaching (as those trained to detect counterfeit currency do so best by studying the authentic).
3. Solid foundations help believers stand firm in the storms of life, as Jesus made clear in the parable of building one's house on the rock (Matthew 6).
4. Solid biblical teaching reinforce the believers personal quiet time. Conversely, if Sunday teaching is random or shallow, believers may understandably conclude the church really doesn't really believe digging deeply and systematically individually on a daily basis to be important.
The Whole Counsel of God: A pastor/teacher can plan to feed His sheep with a comprehensive overview of what has been called "the Whole Counsel of God." This can take place both on Sundays and during the week.
Week-Day: Carol and I have seen tremendous positive effects from a two year overview of the scriptures called The Bethel Series. The course is an adult level study of the major themes of scripture - with memorization of concepts in hundreds of chapters and memory aids for each of 20 Old Testament and 20 New Testament lessons. The overarching theme follows God's call to Abraham to be a blessing to all nations through Christ and the church's mission to the nations. More information may be found currently: www.bethelseries.com. Some of the lessons we've taught over the years are here.
Sundays: The following examples are arranged from shorter to longer. Each is based on the assumption of long-term commitment to the congregation. The pastor/teacher can of course invite others to share in the preparation of Sunday teaching, and is wise to do so in order to train more teachers with a wider range of gifts.
Three Month Plan: You may wish to begin with a shorter overview of the major themes of Scripture over a three month period. These themes could include:
Old Testament: God's Good Creation, Man's Fall into Sin, God's Offer of Covenant Relationship, Exile in Response to Israel's Unfaithfulness to God's Covenant, God's Promises of the Messiah. (5 weeks)
New Testament: The Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, God's Work of Justification in the Cross, God's Work of Sanctification in the Life of the Believer, The Power of the Holy Spirit to Live the Christian Life, The Mission of the Church, The History of Missions in the Church (100 AD to the Present), The Role of the Disciple of Christ in Missions Today, The Renewal of All Things (Heaven/Eschatology). (8 weeks)
Four to Eight Year Plan: More comprehensive Biblical overviews can be done without addressing every chapter. For instance a pastor/teacher can overview the scriptures touching on every book without teaching every chapter, yet providing a solid Biblical theology for the Christian life. This can be done by looking at the Bible as composed of groupings of five or three chapters each and preparing one Sunday morning message on a passage from each group. This would mean for instance:
If your plan included one Sunday message from every 5 chapters from Genesis to Revelation (1189 chapters / 5 = 238 messages), your overview would take nearly 4 years.
If your plan included one Sunday message from every 3 chapters from Genesis to Revelation (1189 chapters / 3 = 396 messages), your overview would take nearly 8 years.
Twenty or More Years: In my nearly twenty years as pastor of New Life Community Church in Burnaby, BC Canada I followed a teaching plan which involved two years in the Gospel of Matthew focusing on Jesus' message of life in the Kingdom of God, then to the Book of Acts. As we came to Paul's missionary journeys, we taught each of Paul's letters to the churches in turn. Then to the remaining letters of the New Testament. I served nearly 20 years and did not complete the plan.
A Story: A young seminarian candidated at an old Presbyterian church in Scotland. As he was shown around the parish he visited the cemetery also. In the cemetery he was shown the headstones of each of the pastors who had served the church since it's founding. The average term of service was nearly 40 years - one's entire career. As the tour concluded, the elder of the church asked the seminarian, "You'll be wanting to buy a plot also I imagine?"
The assumption was that the pastor was not a hireling but would lay down his life for the sheep and remain with them until that time.
Not everyone is called to serve in this way. If one serves with this heart however until the Lord calls you away I am aware of two benefits:
You will be careful of your relationships, loving each person and asking forgiveness when you sin against them. There is no place for pride or pretending when you intend to share life-in-community for a lifetime.
You will have time to teach the Whole Counsel of God.