Why – Preaching
This will be my fifth and final blog of my “Why” series. In this series I’ve been explaining why we do what we do at Pantano. Several folks have commented how helpful these blogs have been to understand the why behind the practices. Let me finish with the adult weekend teaching, also called preaching or sermons.
We always teach the Bible. The Bible is God’s infallible truth and our only dependable authority. Human opinion alone is shakey ground. We work very hard to proclaim, explain, illustrate and apply biblical truth. It isn’t the amount of scripture we teach, it is that we teach clearly from the Bible.
Some people like the “expository” method of teaching which is verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book. I do Bible studies in my small group that way. But that was not how Jesus taught! He taught more thematically (see “series” below). Jesus and the apostles, according to the scriptural examples we have, did not use that method or only very rarely. When you use that method, you end up spending a lot of time on verses that are not as highly relevant and we have only so much time. Don’t get me wrong; all scripture is inspired by God and there are times we need it all. But not all of scripture is equally useful at any given time.
We teach in series. Each series focuses on a topic like God’s will (our Decision series) or relationships (our Peopling series). Once a year, I do a series based on a book of the Bible, like our current series on the book of James. Why? We need God’s Word not just to know doctrine, but to live like Jesus and follow Jesus well. We believe series best help us to focus on a biblical concept for a few weeks to really be able to both understand God’s direction and to apply it well. Several times a year I get away to pray and reflect, asking God what our church needs. It is from this time that I prepare our series, usually about a year in advance.
One Point, One Key Passage
This is all about focus! We all struggle to learn and apply 3 or 5 or 10 points in a teaching. We want to present one key passage (it might be a verse, but more often it is a paragraph or a full story in the Bible) and highlight one key truth that we can apply. Fact is, it is hard for us to remember even one point, let alone a dozen! So we hit that one point over and over to help it stick so we can act on it.
Jesus (Luke 11:28) and James (James 1:22) make it a clear point that it is not enough to know the Bible, but we must put it into practice. We are in danger of being religious hypocrites (Pharisees) if we stop at knowledge. So all our teaching is designed to be extremely practical so that you can actually apply it and act on it.
We use a teaching team, which means we have several pastors on staff who teach in our adult Sunday services and a broader team to help us develop, refine and evaluate each teaching. That’s why I used “we” pretty much throughout this blog. Having different teachers gives us different perspectives that come from different personalities and experience. Our church is not built on the personality of one or the main preacher. The diversity is really healthy. Very few churches use a teaching team, but it makes us better and more effective.