I am known for preaching year-long series. I do this because I believe my role as a pastor is to make disciples, and while I have sometimes grown in an instant, most often I grow by a steady progression towards truth and a new way of doing things. I have also discovered that when I am given too many topics from the pulpit, I get confused as to which ones I should work on. If I am asked to share my faith one week, and work on my marriage the next week, and to read my Bible the next, I find that it is almost as good as an injection inoculating me against taking up any one of the many challenges. I know this is probably because of my personality, but to help my church along a slow and steady journey towards truth, I use a method of preaching I have come to call incremental preaching.
In this method I take a major overall topic and add a small bit of truth to it each week. Using this process I have taught a variety of discipleship topics including A Year on Jesus and A Year on Community. My current theme is A Year on Simple Faith. I plan to spend the year developing principles and tools that help me and others, live faith in a simple but profound way. I’m trying to take away any confusion on the matter and leave people with confidence that they are living the life that Jesus taught.
One year I taught A Year on Prayer. My tag line was “a journey into the meaning, purpose and practice of prayer.” When I announced to my church that I was going to preach the whole year on prayer, besides some thinking I was mad, others wondered how I would fill the year up. They asked me “what will you do after the first week?” Well, all that is history now, and I actually ran out of year before I ran out of material.
These days I get asked the question, “What is one thing you learned out of teaching for a year on prayer?” And my answer is always the same. I learned that prayer is more about aligning my will with God’s will. It’s more about finding out what he is on about and praying for that. It more about his will than my will. It is submitting to what he wants to do in my life and in the world. This does not mean that I stop praying for him to intervene in things over which I have no control; I must still petition him. But when I start recognising who he is and what his plan is, then my prayers change to being less about myself and more about what he wants. This simple truth has changed my prayer life and helped my discipleship life. I find that my recent prayers are much more submitted to Him and what he wants, and they are much more powerful. Now I am more able to pray with integrity the words, “may your will be done on earth as in heaven.”