From the very beginning the norm for me has been book studies vs. teaching topically. I would teach topically (30% of the time) but usually I would do it the Chuck Smith* way, i.e. pick a book out of the bible and teach through it chapter by chapter. There are a few reasons why I think this is the best approach.
- With book studies you always know what you’re teaching on next. There’s no guessing. You know where you left off and you know where to pick up.
- Book studies insure that you are teaching the whole Bible, not just subjects you are comfortable with or topics that are your favorites.
- Book studies teach your people how to systematically read through the Bible pulling truth out of the scriptures. As they observe you exegete, they learn how to exegete.
- Finally, and this is particularly important for the pastor of the smaller church, book studies save you time.
As I stated in reason one, with book studies you always know what’s next. A pastor friend and I were laughing about those times you can sit there (for what seems like hours) staring at a yellow-pad trying to think up something to preach on next Sunday. Maybe you’ve already stolen more sermons off of the internet than your conscience will allow you to bear…so you’re stuck. Ever been there? Book studies save you time! There’s no guessing. You left off in chapter 5 and verse 11 so that means you pick up in verse 12…simple.
Pastors of larger churches have staff to work with. One person works with the youth, another with Children, another handles the administration, etc. Most pastors of smaller churches don’t have a staff (unless you count their families) and they find themselves doing it all, or close to it all. Anything that saves time is worth its weight in gold.
Why not try book studies? Maybe you can use the time saved to take a really good nap.
Do you focus more on book studies or topical and why?
* Chuck Smith started the Calvary Chapel movement in 1965 in Southern California.