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Pastors, Get Time Back in Your Week

Pastors, Get Time Back in Your Week

How to Save Time in Study and Sermon Preparation Using the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible

The Thompson® Chain-Reference® Bible is an excellent tool to engage with for Bible study and sermon preparation. For well over 100 years, professional clergy, lay pastors, and Bible teachers in many settings have profitably used its study systems to enrich their instruction. The TCR’s in-depth study system identifies the interconnectedness of God’s inspired Scripture as it links topics throughout the Bible. In this article, we’ll examine how this study system, and all the tools associated with it, save time in study and sermon preparation.

TCR Bible Study Tools

The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible includes several tools that simplify Bible study and sermon preparation. Here’s a look at some of the best tools for preachers and teachers.

Topics and Chain References in the Margins

Over 100,000 marginal notes detail the topics that can be found in each verse, allowing the preacher or teacher to see the associated topics at a glance. These notes also help to identify the main points for studying or expositing the text.

The marginal topic entries also include chain references that point to the next verse in the topic chain. This allows the preacher or teacher, as they follow the references through the chain, to study multiple related passages that correspond to the theme of their teaching. Each of the topics also includes a number that leads the preacher to the tools in the expansive indexes in the back of the Bible for further study.

Alphabetical Index of Topics

The Alphabetical Index of Topics lists every topic and subtopic found in the TCR in alphabetical order. This includes people, places, and themes, and makes each topic easy to find quickly. Each topic also includes the topic number, which leads the preacher or teacher to the Numerical Index of Topics.

Numerical Index of Topics

The Numerical Index of Topics contains all the topics included in the marginal notes along with the major verses associated with those topics. Of these, the main or most applicable verses are printed in full, allowing for quick and easy in-index study of both the major points and their related subtopics. The Numerical Index of Topics keeps all related topics together under major headings, making them easy to see and use.

This Numerical Index of Topics has been carefully crafted to identify the most prominent verses associated with over 8000 curated topics. The at-a-glance nature of this expansive index greatly simplifies theme study for pastors and teachers, no matter if they’re preaching to a crowd of thousands or working in a small-group setting.

Topical Treasury

The Topical Treasury is a list of topics that make great sermon starters. It lists topics relevant to various audiences in many different categories that include evangelistic meetings, men’s meetings, women’s meetings, youth-oriented meetings, holidays, and more. The topics addressed in this treasury include names and topic numbers that lead to the Numerical Index of Topics.

Multiple Study Methods

The TCR promotes multiple methods of Bible study including topical, biographical, book, passage, and verse study. These methods help the preacher or teacher study any topic or passage. Preachers and teachers can use each method along with the basic Bible study principles outlined in various articles in the front and back of the Bible to develop strong themes, specific points, and illustrations for their sermons or lessons. Let’s look at the methods that can be fruitfully used based on the TCR’s extensive study tools.

Topical Study Method

When you decide on a topic to study, first search the Alphabetical Index of Topics for the topic number. Next, turn to the Numerical Index of Topics to see the verses associated with that topic. Within that index, the preacher or teacher can scan and study the printed verses, turn to the first verse and follow the chain through the Scriptures, and look through all the related and suggested topics.

As they engage with these tools, the preacher or teacher can make notes on the topics and verses they want to use for their sermon or teaching, analyze the passages, and create their teaching outline from their notes.

Following this process allows the preacher or teacher to form a balanced overview of any topic, as well as helping them study their chosen topic within the context of related Scriptures. Having a wide variety of topical information identified and listed keeps the preacher or teacher from having to spend time researching to find the same information on their own.

Biographical Study Method

The Bible Character Studies section provides information about key biblical characters. It includes a range of major and minor biblical characters along with detailed information about their lives. It also includes outlines, charts, and synopses that identify key events and points to study, so that critical information on each Bible character is easy to access and follow.

Book Study

The TCR also includes several tools to help study books of the Bible.

The book introductions provide information on the book’s author, date the book was written, its purpose, audience, main theme, key word, and key verse. These introductions also include a detailed synopsis, point to prominent people that readers will find in the book, and outline the book’s major themes. Finally, the book introductions list the major topical chains to follow throughout each of the Bible’s books.

The Condensed Outline of the Bible divides the Bible’s books into their traditional literary sections and provides a short description of each book of the Bible.

As they examine these tools, the preacher or teacher can use them as a starting point for preparing their teaching and for generating ideas to highlight within those teachings. They can quickly see the main themes, key events, and main characters of each book, and so much more. These are especially helpful to those who preach or teach through entire books of the Bible.

TCR Sermon Prep Tips

The Thompson chain-reference system removes the detailed research needed for sermon or teaching preparation so you can focus on the message itself. Here are a few further tips for sermon and teaching outline development with the TCR:

  • Use all the TCRs tools together for the best and most in-depth study results.
  • Use a physical or digital notebook for your sermon notes.
  • Make notes on your thoughts and findings as you study.
  • Write down the main topic and passage that you want to address.
  • Read the full passages related to each topic to see the entire context.
  • Write down the main points you discover through your research to help you analyze the passage.
  • Make note of the supporting topics associated with your chosen topic, along with their Scripture references.
  • Write out the ideas found in supporting passages to help build supporting points.
  • Make note of recommended topics for further study.
  • Prayerfully build your outline from these notes.

Ending Thoughts

The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible is a robust study resource for sermon and teaching preparation. Its tools simplify the research process and make it easy to study any book, topic, character, or passage. Rather than providing easy answers that a preacher or teacher can simply repeat, it allows the speaker to complete a more comprehensive study as it breaks topics out and lists them so they can be easily seen and traced. All of this saves time and effort in sermon and teaching preparation.

Are you ready to save time while still deepening your study with the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible


Learn More about the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible from Zondervan