My journey into the role of a lead pastor has been far from ordinary. In 2009, my family and I moved from the Dallas metroplex to West Monroe, La. (that’s right … I’m in “Duck Dynasty” land), to become the student pastor at a church called First West. For five years, we were able to see God do incredible work among middle school and high school students in Northeast Louisiana. In early 2013, I sensed a shift in what God’s calling on my life would be, but I was convinced it would not be a lead pastor, as I had no desire to fulfill that role. However, during that year, God was clearly working.
I had several opportunities to go on staff at great churches in our convention, but the Lord repeatedly shut those doors. Shockingly, He knew what He was doing. At the end of 2013, I was contacted by the search committee requesting to begin the interview process to become the next pastor at First West. Needless to say, the rest is history. Here I was, 32 years old, having never served as a lead pastor, only holding a master’s degree in Christian education from Southwestern Seminary, and now leading this great church.
One of the biggest challenges of moving into the lead pastor role was weekly sermon preparation. One pastor friend shared with me, “Preaching weekly is like giving birth on Sunday and being pregnant again on Monday.” He was right. I found weekly preparation to be a challenge with everything else that comes with leading people, a staff, and ministry opportunities. It can be easy to allow good things to rob the most important thing.
Possibly an even larger challenge than the weekly preparation was the strategic sermon planning. It wasn’t for a lack of ideas or content, but rather discerning where our people were spiritually and the right way to biblically address the entire congregation. It is one thing to preach weekly in order to address a tangible need, but altogether different to preach to people’s hearts, which reveals the root of their needs.
After several years of switching regularly between expository book studies, character studies, and an occasional topical series, I became convinced of this: MANY OF OUR PEOPLE KNOW STORIES IN THE BIBLE, BUT FEW OF OUR PEOPLE KNOW THE STORY OF THE BIBLE. After discerning this to be the case in early 2017, I became convinced that in 2018 I needed to “preach through the Bible.” I am preaching to my church Genesis to Revelation in 48 messages to help our people see not only God’s story, but His character, faithfulness, and fervent love within the story.
We are now three months into this journey and have already seen many benefits. Whether you are a pastor looking to preach the metanarrative of Scripture or a church member who believes this would benefit your church, let me share several benefits of our journey:
1. Our people are seeing and grasping the metanarrative of the Bible.
It is refreshing to hear individuals, who have been in the church for years, vibrantly discuss how the Bible fits together. They’ve spent their lives listening to sermon after sermon, but they have never before seen the full picture. There is a reason people like to binge-watch TV shows on Netflix! One episode may be good, but many episodes in the right order is awesome! Our God is a creator, redeemer, and restorer who fights for His people. Don’t let your people miss the forest for the trees!
2. Our people are seeing how to better apply the Scripture to their lives.
As fitting as it may be at times to look down our noses at the faithlessness of the Israelites, we are reminded that we’re often guilty of that same faithlessness. God’s response to their wayward hearts and wavering commitment shows us how to rightfully respond when we wander as well.
3. Our people are seeing the centrality of faith to our relationship with God.
Romans 4:13 says, “For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.” In methodically walking through the Old Testament, our people are observing that even in the giving of and expected obedience to the Law, God’s call was always to follow Him by faith.
4. Our people have never been more clear that Jesus is the hero of Scripture!
Jesus made it crystal clear in Luke 24:27 that the Scriptures are ultimately about Him. Directing our peoples’ attention to see Christ throughout the Bible has been life-giving. God “winks” at us from the beginning, showing us the hero of this story. Jesus is seen in creation (Colossians 1:16), in the ram caught in the thicket (Genesis 22), in the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), and in numerous other passages.
5. I know what I am preaching next week, next month, and next fall!
This benefit is self-serving, but it is a real benefit!