Benefits of using the lectionary in worship
In A More Christlike Word, Brad Jersak presents a Christ-centered approach to biblical interpretation that he refers to as The Emmaus Way. This post summarizes what Brad says concerning how following the lectionary for all aspects of community (corporate) worship (including preaching) helps churches stay faithful to this method, keeping the focus on Jesus and his gospel.
Why follow the lectionary?
Following the lectionary in community worship means conforming Scripture readings and sermons (along with other elements of worship) to the cycle of passages set forth in the lectionary.
[Note: though there are multiple lectionaries, the one that Grace Communion International follows is The Revised Common Lectionary (RCL).]
What's the danger in not following the lectionary?
Referencing a comment from theologian John Behr, Brad points out that
reading the Bible apart from its gospel framework, preserved in the liturgical tradition [via the lectionary], may not even be reading it as Scripture. If I sit down with my Bible and flip it open to any page in the book, I've potentially removed that page from its specific role in its gospel content. One could study the Bible their whole lives and yet miss the essential reality of who all the Scriptures point to. (p. 97, alluding to John 5:39-40)
Some pastor-teachers, other preachers, and worship leaders/planners resist following the lectionary each week feeling it is too constraining. I get how they feel, I once felt that way too. But I now urge those who resist to think deeply about what Brad shares in urging us to follow the lectionary. The fruit of this spiritual discipline is to understand the Bible as God intends, and thus to preach it rightly. And so I commend use of the lectionary to you.
- For more on conforming preaching to the Christian calendar (a benefit of following the lectionary) see the series starting at http://thesurprisinggodblog.gci.org/2018/09/inhabiting-christian-worship-year.html.
- For more on the benefits of preaching that follows the RCL, see the Equipper article at https://equipper.gci.org/2017/05/the-priority-of-preaching-using-the-rcl.
- For a related Equipper article on the power of liturgy in discipling people, see https://equipper.gci.org/2018/10/worldview-conversion-the-power-of-liturgy.
- For a GCI podcast that tracks with the RCL readings, go to https://resources.gci.org/media/gospel-reverb.