Building a Series of Messages

by John Meador

John MeadorWhen you "go expositional" in your preaching, you're making a great statement. You are affirming that God Himself has something to say to your people. You are making a statement that the Word has the answers, not the preacher. You intentionally elevate the Word of God.

A friend of mine has a statement that rings true. "When you do not intentionally elevate the Word of God, you unintentionally elevate the man of God." I think he's on track. Going expositional intentionally elevates the Word of God-it teaches people to depend on it for daily living.

In my study, the book of James has become a point of focus and has been the basis for several series of messages I am currently preaching. Let me show you how this transpired for me.

First, I was drawn to James as a fitting and relevant study for our people. I saw the Spirit's leadership in undeniable ways. Second, I read and prayerfully re-read the book of James over several weeks of time. Third, I saw key themes and an outline begin to emerge after making numerous observations by studying the passages inductively. Fourth, my study of the key divisions in the book revealed sections that would be the basis for individual messages. Fifth, I opened my study to the scrutiny of others who lent their creative impact to what I saw the book of James saying. We work on the names of these sections, or series, together, and finally put them to the calendar. Sixth, the weekly study leading up to the Sunday that I am to preach the message rounded out the process.

So what will James look like when I preach through it? The first series in James will be "Peace in the Perfect Storm." James 1:1-16 provides the material for five messages focusing on trials-the storm of testing. Verse 6 provides the basis for the title: "For the one who doubts is like the waves of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind." I am already seeing the Lord use this series to anchor us in the storms we face.

The second series is entitled, framed by James 1:17-2:26, is called "The Church in the Mirror." This looks to be seven weeks in length. The title came from James 1:23, which says, "He is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror" It encompasses intense self-examination for a hearer who does what the Word says to do, for a faith that has works as evidence of its authenticity. My prayer is that our church will look long and hard about what God says we ought to look like.

For the third series, the plan is to tackle James 3 and 4. The recurring themes through these two chapters are the huge individual issues raised by James found in the church. They are the tongue, selfish ambition, selfish lust, the devil, judgmentalism and presumptuous boasting. My title comes from realizing these are the "giant issues" that create havoc in the church. I'm calling this series, "Battle of the Giants," and will spend a week on each of these six issues. If you look carefully, you'll see the relevance for them in the church and society today. These really are huge.

Finally, the fourth series is obvious. James 5 oozes patience and prayer. This series is entitled, "The Power of Patient Praying People." I anticipate 5 messages in James 5-these figure to be some of the most surprising and impacting messages of all.

Altogether, James will have supplied the resources for over a half a year of messages on Sunday morning. They are laid out in series that are relatively brief and attention getting. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. For the expositional preacher, learning to work with human attention spans is critical. While you may believe that the book of James is just what they need, some of them are not convinced yet. They need you to show them how powerfully in touch the Word is with their lives.

Additionally, these messages are anchored on the Word itself, not some human means of determining material. Even the creative elements that may take place will find their origin in the text, so that the Word of God is being intentionally elevated.

And we know this-God honors His Word unconditionally. That alone should give us enough encouragement to "Go expositional" and preach it!

John Meador is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, Texas.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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