Last week I finished a short sermon series I had titled "Why do we do that?" which looked at the basic elements of our Church worship service. This included "Worship" "Missions" "Giving" "Communion" "Prayer" and "Study Scripture" I found it a very enjoyable series to prepare but at the same time a very difficult one. Any one of those topics could have been a very lengthy series, and quite frankly some of them might be one day. The purpose of the series though was to take a short journey through some of the basics. Now I am turning my attention elsewhere.
This weekend is very full for our church as we go through a church consultation process with our Fellowship. Much work has gone into this process in the background and this weekend we have a whole series of meetings with the team that has come in. The intent of this process it to help our church re-focus and help us to start pulling all in the same direction. This process has great potential to help us long-term. Short-term however, it helps me because I'm not preaching on Sunday which has allowed me some much needed prep time.
You see I like to plan things out. When I was in seminary, I did a fair bit of pulpit supply but rarely did I know much in advance and very rarely was I in the same place two weeks in a row. This meant many one-off messages. Now that I'm pastoring full-time and preaching every week I have an opportunity to plan further out. This planning out a whole series (10-16 weeks depending on the book we're working through) takes a lot of work on the front end but it allows me to work through what themes will get worked throughout the series. This is helpful, especially in some of the epistles where the writer is hitting on the same themes throughout the letter.
Anyway, the past couple weeks I've been preparing to preach through James in July & August. This has meant much reading and studying of the book itself and a number commentaries on it. Today I finished one of the hardest parts of this prep, outlining the entire book into individual messages. In someways this is difficult because it looks like James was intended to be a single, standalone sermon. It seems kind of strange to break it up into 10 parts but that is how we work through sermons these days. James is an interesting book, full of very practical stuff. One of the things that struck me in my prep was that one author postulated that James wasn't intending to convince one of the Gospel, acceptance of the Gospel is expected, rather, he's trying to tell how to live in light of the Gospel. There are some great challenges in James and I'm sure his original audience got as uncomfortable as many of us do when we hear what he has to say.