Idea: Preach Through a Specific Gospel


Early in my friendship with Ben Sobels, I encouraged him to preach through one of the New Testament Gospels, and he did. As a result, he learned firsthand that good things happen in a church when a pastor preaches through a Gospel with their congregation. He chose Mark’s Gospel, and it just so happened that he did this while he was in one of the first cohorts of The Bonhoeffer Project.

Let me allow Ben to share the rest of the story from his perspective:

To do these two activities in tandem proved to be transformational—both for our congregation and for me. I began my preparation for preaching through Mark’s Gospel by reading one chapter each week on my own and doing an exposition of that chapter from the pulpit on Sunday morning. We did this for sixteen weeks (one week per chapter). Then, our congregation gathered midweek in sermon-based small groups to dig even deeper into the same passage.

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As we read and studied Mark’s Gospel together, Jesus spoke, and we listened. When he served the poor, we encouraged each other to do the same. When he challenged his original twelve disciples, we allowed him to challenge us, too. We paid much closer attention and made it a point to put his teachings into practice. In doing this together, our church began seeing the essential elements of Jesus’ gospel revealed in the pages of Scripture. We saw his patterns for disciple making laid out for us. While this was going on, I was experiencing a gospel and discipleship renewal with Bill and the Bonhoeffer cohort I had joined.[3]

By the time our congregation had completed Mark’s Gospel and I had graduated from The Bonhoeffer Project, our church had done a lot of deep discipleship work, which included:

  • Defining the gospel

  • Defining a “disciple”

  • Creating a comprehensive discipleship strategy that was unique to our church and purposed every ministry for discipleship

  • Adding an intentional disciple-making ministry

  • Forming our own church’s discipleship tool that was grounded in Mark’s Gospel and included our definitions and strategy

These things were tangible items that we had put on paper. There were other things too, though, that emerged—intangible things. Our congregation began speaking the gospel to one another, for example, and talking about discipleship more often. This created a common language and an expectation for disciple making in our congregation. Our common language began forming a culture of discipleship among us. Now, three years later, our church’s discipleship culture is still forming, but the genesis of this transition stemmed from one core activity: preaching through one of the New Testament Gospels from the pulpit. We highly recommend this, and Mark’s Gospel can be a great place to start (because it’s short and punchy), even though the other Gospels can work well, too.

In fact, we published this tool as The Discipleship Gospel Workbook, which you can get for yourself, your discipleship group, or your whole church by clicking here.


3. For more information about cohorts of The Bonhoeffer Project, please visit

This was taken from The Discipleship Gospel by Bill Hull and Ben Sobels. Used by permission of HIM Publications. Use code TBP at checkout for a discount when you place your order here.