Westminster Assembly

Westminster Assembly

Acts 6:4

"But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word."



1 Timothy 4:6-16

" If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 1 Tim 4:6-16 (KJV)

"The Benefits of Preaching Lectio Continua" By Shane C. Montgomery

Sunday, January 16, 2011

    I have preached for the past 29 weeks in a row on Paul's epistle to the Romans.  Beginning on Chapter One and Verse One, Verse Two, Verse Three and so on.  This morning was over Romans 9:14-18.  This is not the first book we have went through "Lectio Continua," prior to Romans we went through Ephesians and prior to that it was Galatians.  I have to say this is a very lengthy process and it demands a great majority of the ministers time in study, research and preparation.  More than this, a commitment of diligence is required along with a congregation who desires this type of continuous sermons.  The benefits of this style of preaching far outway the drawbacks, at least in my point of view.

One large benefit is that I am forced to learn more in this manner than I would if I was still preaching nothing but Topical, Evangelistic and Gospel Sermons.  All of these sermons have their place and all these sermons have a special purpose.  Of course the last two, Evangelistic and Gospel Sermons are very much needed, mostly when preaching in a different venue, guest speaking at another church, nursing home, open air preaching and the sort, these are the main places I would preach these sermons, I do preach them at my home church, I have many times but to say every single sermon must be one of these two is to say you do not care about the spiritual growth of your flock.  Like I mentioned earlier, there is a time and a place for these types of sermons as well as for topical sermons.  For a church like ours that honestly does not get many walk up visitors, and the group is made up of mostly seasoned vets when it comes to the Bible and Worship, though we did get one walk in visitor this morning!  Praise God!  In the case of so many long time believers in one church it is important to provide for their spiritual needs and growth and I can think of no better way than the Lectico Continua style of preaching, verse by verse, chapter by chapter.  I said that I am forced to learn from this manner and it is true, I do learn from Topical Sermons, but the danger there is that you want to preach on subjects of the Bible that you know best, and while that might be easier for me it does my group no good at all.  Some might be edified by that message whereas others are trying to stay awake while listening to the same message they have heard so many times before.  This is not the case in continual texts sermons, I as a pastor am forced to study anew every week, to prepare the next message on the next verses in the text of that book.  Study begins Sunday afternoon, the few hours in between morning service and evening service.  Study goes on all week and then the message is put together, at least the outline and notes, throughout the week and I wait until Friday night or Saturday morning to put it all together.  It is the same in one area, that being my outline is put to good use in the pulpit, I cannot preach well without one, but my outline that looked so good the day before often has glaring holes once I step into the pulpit and I do a lot of changing, rearainging and addition to the sermon, I can have eight pages of outline and when the time is up, normally 90 minutes of preaching the sermon, that eight page outline has turned into a sixteen page sermon.  It can't be helped, sometimes even the best of your studies, the best of your preparation and prayers go unanswered until you step into the pulpit and then God shines a whole new light at the texts you have studied all week and almost everything other than your basic outline changes dramatically.   I will never complain about this one bit, for God has taken what looked like some of my worst sermon outlines and at the last moment changed it into one of my best messages.  Our God truly is a wonderful and magnificent God!  This has happened so many times in the past, I have come to trust that it will continue to happen, in that I would often fret over every single message, lie awake the night before and worry I did not do enough preparation, when so much of it is truly found in prayer instead.  I guess this is nothing more than maturing in my role as a minister of God's Holy Word, and yes, I admit I have a long way to go yet.  That is why I still pray for Him to make me a better communicator of the Gospel and a better believer in general.  Christians, I have to be honest here, prayer is so important, not just for the minister, but for all believers, we cannot at anytime depend on our own abilities, we cannot depend on our knowledge, our education, our speaking expertise, our dress, our presence, our unction, nothing but God.  We have to seek Him in prayer and plead with God to enable us, to use us as a conduit for Him to get His Word out there.  Once we do this, so much becomes so simple!  We often make everything we do or try to do so hard when we do not have to.  If we spend more time in prayer and less time in fretting, we will see wonders performed. I will never say preparation is not of the utmost importance, I believe a slothful minister gets what he has coming to him, but it is not all about preparation either, it is about God and your prayers to Him. 

  Let me get back on track here real quick, Lectio Continua style of preaching better educates the minister, forces him to be patient, practical, and to persevere in his studies, it also forces him and his congregation to learn the whole council of God's Will.  Nothing is omitted, even the toughest chapters of the toughest books must be preached and learned in this manner.  We do not have the right to pick and choose what to speak of in Scripture, this way of doing things makes sure we do not show any bias to any verses or doctrines, every doctrine will be confronted and examined in depth by the minister and the hearers.  Every doctrine in Scripture is important, so we learn every doctrine and Lord willing, we learn it correctly.  Lectio Continua also has an advantage in that the hearers learn at a very advanced rate over those who never hear this type of sermon.  Topical sermons are fine but they will never teach you everything in Scripture.  Those who sit under the preaching of Lectio Continua have a much greater advantage over those who sit under Topical preaching every week.  In Lectio Continua both speaker and hearer learn more, learn faster, and grow better.   The minister learns more, becomes a better preacher through more preparation, better preparation, through more study, more prayer, more Scripture reading.  By not allowing the preacher to pick and choose the subject of his sermons, God's will is better put forth.

  This post is going longer than I intended so let me cut it short,  I hope you will consider this method of preaching and if it is something you would like to sit through, speak to your pastor about it, see what he has to say.  Tell him the benefits of this way of delivering the entire counsel of God's Word.  Not everyone will embrace this style of preaching through Scripture, we had a visitor come to our church last spring who hung around for a few months then disappeared, he was a great man of God and I learned from him in many ways, he was a fine Reformed man who had been observing the Doctrines of Grace for over forty years.  After sitting through about the first five messages in Romans he approached me and said, "I know you are a man who loves Mr. Spurgeon, so I want to tell you, Spurgeon never preached verse by verse like you do."  To that I could only say, "I am not Charles Spurgeon."  I had no other answer, this man did not like this style of preaching, and he is not required to, that is his decision, but for many of us, it is a great thing. Sometimes we look up to our heros of the faith too much.  Just because Spurgeon did this and Calvin did that, does not make it right for you and me!  God called us to be us, God raised me up to preach as myself, not as Spurgeon and not as Knox, but God raised Shane Montgomery to preach as Shane Montgomery.  If God wanted another Spurgeon, he would make one and raise him up to minister, or the great Mr. Spurgeon would still be alive today,  as of yet, this has not happened.  

  More and more Reformed churches are embracing this style of preaching, I pray this continues and we see most churches doing this, think of the amount of Biblically sound Christians we would have running around this land!  Wouldn't that be great?!   Pastors would not just preach on what they know best or what they feel most comfortable preaching, and the sheep will get to hear some sound doctrine, they would have something to really sink their teeth into rather than another sermon on "David and Goliath and how you can beat your personal Goliath."  In Lectio Continua, everyone wins!

Be Holy!


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