You could get the impression from some expository theorists that the only way to preach through a book is 7 to 12 verses at a time. Exceeding that length is unhelpful, so it is claimed.
My recent experience has been challenging that assumption, however.
Here in Ballymoney, we are currently working through Mark’s gospel at a rapid pace. It probably fits Mark’s racing style that we aren’t meandering one pericope at a time! We are instead striding across two, three or even four pericopes per sermon.
Of course, there are disadvantages of this. We cannot give the congregation a word study on every verse. We certainly cannot follow every rabbit trail to its conclusion. In yesterday’s sermon on Mark 3:7-35, I had to *briefly* cover matters such as the unforgivable sin (3:29-30); similarly, I could not explore the identity of the twelve appointed apostles in detail (3:17-19).
On the plus side though, covering larger amounts of text helped me see more clearly the flow of Mark’s narrative. When examining singular stories in isolation, it is harder (though not impossible) to see the connections between different chunks of narrative.
For example: chapter 3 as a whole has the pervading theme of the “crowds”; crowds who constantly clamour around Jesus (3:7-12; 20). Yet sandwiched within these crowded scenes is Jesus removing Himself to a mountain and appointing the twelve apostles (3:13-19). Looked at things with the wide-angled lens, we see that amidst the pressurised atmosphere of the multitudes, it was the Christ, not the crowds, who was still setting the agenda.
When preaching bigger sections, we may not be exegeting every word so closely. But we are exegeting the context and structure of the book in a much more careful way.