Clusters and Journeys

Influencers are leaders.  So preachers are leaders.  But how much do we lead in our preaching?  Take the issue of preaching calendars, for example.  At one extreme we have churches that have no calendar planned, or only preachers planned (but no subjects/texts).  I suppose the ultimate example might be  church that relies fully on visiting speakers who all choose their own message for each service.  At the other extreme we have churches who carefully map out the entire year of preaching, so that you can know now what text will be preached the second Sunday of next October.

Some would hold that only the Holy Spirit should lead the church, and thus the random outside preacher approach is fine since God can work through whoever is preaching.  I suppose we could all agree to that in principle, but at the same time, I want to graciously ask a question of that approach.  Is there not the risk of simply presenting biblical truths without any sense of deliberately leading the church forward on its journey?  How much opportunity is missed by “simply preaching” without really tapping into the broader reality of the growth of the local church?

Now for those who have a well-planned preaching calendar.  Is it merely constructed by the gathering of series in some attempt to give a balanced diet?  That’s a good start, but again, are we failing to lead as well as the opportunity affords?  Do we fall into preaching collections of random messages strung together by the unity of a Bible book, or a series title, but fail to prayerfully plot the journey of the church?  Or are we plotting a journey 16 months in advance and failing to take stock of where we actually have travelled several months into the year?

One further thought.  Do we rely on one-hit messages to achieve change when really we would be far better with a cluster of messages approach? One-hit messages can be stand alone, or they can be a series that moves from one thing to the next, without the clustering power intended by a series.

Wherever our church sits on the scale of pre-planned preaching schedules, all of us are in danger of missing out on the opportunity to really lead the church as we preach.  Let’s prayerfully consider how God would have us carry the burden of leadership, every time we plan a preaching schedule, and every time we preach.

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