What is a lectionary?
A lectionary is a set of Scripture readings for use in worship, assigning specific readings from the Bible to dates and times of the year. The readings are often organised with a particular theme or event in mind.
Why use a lectionary?
Many Churches do not have a specific preaching plan, and a lectionary can help ensure that the breadth and depth of the Bible is preached each year. It also lends itself to expository sermons which help encourage Church-goers to read and engage with the Bible.
Using a lectionary has several advantages. Speakers can plan what they are speaking on well in advance, allowing more time for sermon development. It also allows worship leaders to coordinate the worship with the sermon. Where readings are given in Church, the readers are given more time to prepare and practice their delivery. Church members are also given the opportunity to read and reflect on the assigned Biblical text in their own personal worship ahead of the service. It can also help give a sense of unity with GCI (and other) Churches across the UK and Ireland as we work through the same biblical texts together.
What is the Narrative Lectionary?
The Narrative Lectionary (NL) is a four-year cycle of readings for use in worship and preaching. The goal is to preach annually through the biblical narrative so that the lives of believers will be centred in God’s story – this is the theme the lectionary is based around. It aims to help people see Scripture as a story that has coherence and a dynamic movement. Each week, two texts are provided: a preaching text and an (optional) accompanying text.
The Narrative Lectionary follows the academic year – September to May, ending at Pentecost. Each year the preaching texts provide an overview of the biblical story:
- Old Testament: From September until Christmas, the Lectionary follows Old Testament readings (with accompanying texts from the Gospels) moving through the story of God’s interaction with Israel and culminating in the prophets’ longing and hope for the coming Messiah.
- Gospel: From Christmas to Easter, readings follow one of the Gospel accounts each year (with accompanying texts from the Psalms).
- Early Church: From Easter through to Pentecost, readings from the Gospel, Acts, and Paul’s letters reveal the power of the Holy Spirit in the early church’s story.
More details on the Narrative Lectionary can be found at www.narrativelectionary.org. With permission we have made slight changes to reflect our worship pattern.
Do GCI congregations in the UK and Eire have to follow the Narrative Lectionary?
We think it is helpful and encourage you to use it. The Lectionary can also be helpful as a weekly worship resource.
When using the Narrative Lectionary, it is important to be sensitive to congregational needs, and we appreciate that, in times of difficulty or grief within the congregation, it might be appropriate to skip the assigned text in the lectionary in favour of a more suitable message. We would ask our pastoral councils and our elders to use wisdom in this regard.
What are the sermon resources?
The sermon resources are designed to help when preparing sermons. We know that many of our preachers have other jobs and commitments and the sermon resources are intended to help ease the burden of sermon preparation. Please feel free to adapt and use them as need.
They are not meant to be either prescriptive or exhaustive and you may have other ideas on how to develop the text for preaching. Again, please feel free to adapt these resources according to congregational needs and individual styles, or to use your own approach to the lectionary text.
We hope you will find the lectionary a useful pastoral tool and please let us know what you think!