Preaching from one book of the Bible for an entire year

Question of the Week: If you had to preach from one book of the Bible for a whole year, which book would you pick and why?

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28 thoughts on “Preaching from one book of the Bible for an entire year

  1. One of the gospels — probably either Matthew or John — because they tell the essentially story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and open the door to the rest of God’s story.

  2. I would probably choose Philippians – it is the only epistle written to a mostly (?) healthy church. The principles, thus, apply to all Christians, regardless of where they are in their Christian walk.

    If I were to choose an Old Testament book, it would be the book of Amos. I remember a week long set of lessons I took as part of an Intervarsity camping experience while in college. The lessons learned still ring true and would love to have the time to walk that path one more time – though it has been nearly 40 years since I did so.

    • Nope – not from here anyway. I have always defined myself as a “Promillenialist”. In other words, whatever God wants, I am for it. Problem is – I am not sure what he wants. I love the Wesleyan position – it is clear that Christ will return with consequences for all people. But the exact sequence of events is less clear. To which I agree whole heartily.

  3. First choice:
    Psalms. For its the prayer book of Israel, Jesus, and the early church. Moreover, its been used to teach the Church how to pray the full range of human emotion throughout the centuries. Peterson’s “Answering God” has re-ignitied a passion in me to relearn the truth that “most Scripture speaks to us…but the Psalter also speaks for us.” May Christ’s Church reengage with a focus on prayer like never before. Plus, so many of the Theological and Christological themes of the NT come directly from Psalms.
    Second choice:
    Mark. No explanation necessary.

    • Thanks Dave. I know a pastor who preached through all 150 Psalms, one per week. The Psalms are so honest, and if we’re honest we’ll have to admit that sermons could use more honesty and less sugar-coating these days:-)

    • I agree that Mark is the best choice of the gospels. Being the first of the gospels, it was written so that the church would never forget what Christ said and what he did. I have always told new believers that they should read Mark first. I know that this stands against traditional wisdom (which suggests that one start with John), but I am convinced that a new believer is more likely to make it through Mark and learn a great deal about our Lord and Savior. Good choice for a gospel to preach through – AFAIK.

  4. The Gospel of John. Everything’s here, and it always seems fresh to me.

    I also would love to spend extended time in Genesis, Jeremiah, and Hebrews, but I don’t’ think I could go a year without preaching Jesus material.

    • I did the same in my second year of ministry. I learned a ton about John and the value of preaching through a book, with breaks of course during Advent and Lent.

  5. John’s Gospel would be my choice

    Because John records so many references to what Jesus said and His one on one encounters which enable to see how He may interact with us!!!

  6. A year is a long time to focus on one book. I could be tempted to spend a year on:

    1. The Psalms. The Psalms are a description of what it means to live life in God’s Kingdom, through the good and the bad. Jesus’ teaching seems to be very formed by the Psalms. Good formation for a congregation as well.

    2. Any gospel. Since it hasn’t been mentioned yet, I’ll go with Matthew. The 5 teaching sections in Matthew provide a natural way to cover both the power of Jesus’ life and the content of his teaching. And it would be difficult to spend to much time teaching the Sermon on the Mount.

    3. Romans. Paul’s longest and most detailed argument. And as Wesleyan’s we need to be regularly helping people read Romans 7 in the context of Romans 6 and 8. :)

    • Thanks for your insights Pat. I like your take on the Romans 7 sandwich- between 6 and 8. What would you say to the person who asserts, “Preaching through the Psalms might get pretty redundant over the course of a year, since there seems to be lots of themes repeated often.”?

      • A few thoughts on your question of redundancy in the Psalms.

        1. Even if you preach through the Psalms for 1 year you will only preach 1/3 of the Psalms. This allows for careful selection to cover all the themes without too much repetition.

        2. It often takes more than one sermon for a theme to really take root in the life of a congregation. It is the preacher’s task to bring to life similar passages in fresh ways.

        3. I would probably not actually spend an entire year on the Psalms (though it’s tempting). Dave lays out good reasons below. I did once preach from the Psalms for about 10 straight weeks, seeking to cover representative Psalms that opened the congregation to the rhythm of life found in the Psalms. It was an important time of spiritual development for both me and the congregation.

  7. One of the genres of Scripture from which I have rarely preached is the proverbs. I’m not sure why I shy away from the proverbs, perhaps its their apparent lack of theological substance. Is there anyone out there who would tackle the Proverbs for one year? If so, why would you choose to do so?

    • I would love to do Proverbs as a long series… I can see it already:

      Scripture Tweets: A Series on the Proverbs

      The nice thing about this series is you could choose like 6 or 7 out of proverbs that have parallel points-so while it’s scripture heavy it’s really more of a topical series.

      I’d dig that.

      I have to thank Steve Lennox for first sparking an interest in Proverbs for me–although I think I caused him some headache in his Poetic Books class despite! :-)

  8. I actually just completed a year-long (though it took a little over a year) walk through of Genesis with my youth group…. and I still have students coming! But seriously, it was great. We knew that they did not have much of a foundation, knowledge of God, knowledge of man and sin, and you can bring Christ into the picture throughout. It was really a fun study to do.

    • Hey Stephen. Thanks for jumping into the dialogue. I love Genesis. There is so much lived experience in the book. I am preaching at a camp this Summer and developing my four sermons from Genesis. Send me your notes:-)

  9. Just to chime in here–in general I don’t think I would do a whole year of preaching in one book. It’s very difficult to have people sustain in one book of scripture on a sunday morning in this way and there’s a reason almost no christian or even non-Christian traditions skip around for a more broad focus on scriptures.

    There’s also a reason that some of those who notably did very long series early in their preaching (Paul Hontz did that in Job for like 44 weeks, and Rob Bell did a full year on Leviticus to launch Mars Hill) don’t stick with it. It’s not very sustainable. And in some ways it can be a “preaching stunt” that I don’t know we should try to pull.

    HOWEVER–to speak out of the other side of my mouth–many of our churches get super-topical and less scriptural over time, so the idea of doing a very long (half-year, full year) series on a book can shock a church back into it’s focus on scripture in preaching, and shock a preacher likewise. For that purpose, it can be very useful.

    • Good thoughts Dave. I think a decent rule of thumb is to do a 4-6 week book series followed by a 4-6 week topical series. Of course, we can create a hybrid like “Marriage and Family from an Ephesian Perspective.” I probably would leave the Ephesian part off of the series title but maybe not. We have four kinds of listeners in the congregation, those who listen primarily with their heart, mind, soul, or strength (or for inspiration, information, reflection, or application respectively). While every sermon perhaps should aim to develop content that hits all of these listener preferences, it may be easier to focus an entire series on one of these every four months or to preach a four week series with a different primary target (ie, heart, mind, etc) each week.

      • Lenny:

        I like this idea of preaching to the mind, body, spirit, and soul. Since Wesley already has his quadralateral, we’ll need to call this one the Lenny Quadralateral [:)].

        I have always thought it might be fun to spend 1+ year preaching through the scriptures. I would spend one week per book choosing a key verse or theme each week, though I might combine some book pairs (e.g. I & II Samuel).

        • Floyd, I like this idea. It would give a nice “at-a-glance” perspective on each book within the biblical story. I have not heard of this being done. If I ever make it back into pastoral ministry, I just might do it:-)