When I was a youth pastor, the majority of my teaching was verse by verse. Each week I would deal with anywhere from two to eight verses as I systematically worked through whole books of the Bible. During that almost two year stint I covered 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude, and about half of James. Over the past year, I’ve done the same thing through Hebrews here at New Morning Church.
There are numerous benefits to preaching verse by verse, but three have been particularly helpful to me:
- It removes the stress of not knowing what to preach. There have been been weeks that Saturday has come and found me clueless about my text for Sunday. On such occasions I not only had to deal with the pressure of the work before me, but also with anxiety, guilt, and self-loathing. I hate those feelings, and preaching verse by verse removes them. After I preached the first three verses of Hebrews, I knew that next week my text would start at verse four. That may sound mechanical, but if the Holy Spirit led me to that particular book in the first place, then I know I’m right where I need to be.
- It allows deeper immersion in the text and subject matter. Since I know that over the next several months I will be dealing with every verse in that book, I’m able to begin preparation a couple of weeks in advance. I’m not at the point where my messages are completed that far out—I’m still writing this Sunday’s message this week—but I have had more time to read and meditate on the text, conduct word studies, consult commentaries and atlases, and look for meaningful illustrations and cross-references.
- It requires attention to be given to passages considered too difficult or too dull. If you work verse by verse you have to take each passage as it comes. This has helped me to both think through some of the more challenging verses that I might have shied away from and to see the significance of some of the seemingly mundane ones. Each verse has a purpose and is necessary in understanding the natural progression of a single book as well as the entirety of the biblical narrative. I can now not only see exactly how each verse fits, but can communicate that to my audience.
Which books of the Bible have you preached through, or heard preached through? What benefits did you see?