Sometimes within church life the bible translation that the pastor uses can be a big deal. In some situations, it even leads to problems. I'm thrilled that is not the case at Chevis Oaks Baptist.
As I have preached in several churches over the last 5 years or so, I have used various translations. Up until this year, I hadn't really decided on which version to use. Quite honestly, I'm not sure exactly why I used certain translations in the past. That changed this year as I began thinking about preaching consistently within one church family.
Since coming to Chevis Oaks, I have been preaching from the New King James Version of the Bible.
As I began to think about what version to use, I first made up my mind to choose one version and stick with it. I at least knew enough to know that the people listening would want consistency in version choice. Over time, some people tend to purchase bibles that are the same version their pastors use so that they can follow along more easily during the sermon. This has already happened here with several folks buying NKJVs.
As I was deciding on a version to use, I held one assumption: there are several good translations of the bible in English. Some people disagree with this and believe one version is simply the best, and should therefore be used due to its superiority. I have yet to be convinced of that. As I have looked at the original languages (I don't claim to be any sort of expert), and then looked at English translations, I have found the following to be good translations: the King James Version (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the English Standard Version (ESV), the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), and the International Standard Version (ISV). All are basically word-for-word translations that do a good job of expressing the meaning of the original authors. To see a good comparison of several different versions, click here.
When I study, I don't stick with one version. I recommend to any bible teachers that you look at several versions when analyzing any passage. If you can afford it, purchase Bibleworks. It has helped me a great deal.
At a personal level, my favorite translation is the ESV. The reason is that it is a good translation that is also very readable. I don't struggle with any of the language and at the same time I know that it is an accurate translation. The HCSB is similar.
When I blog, I usually bounce back-and-forth between the ESV and NKJV depending on what I am writing about.
Now to preaching and teaching. Why do I use the NKJV? The reason is simple: it is what I think is best for this church family. Many of the members of Chevis Oaks enjoy the KJV. However, there are others who use a modern translation such as the NIV (New International Version). I have found the NKJV to be a good "middle-ground" between those two versions. A person can listen to a sermon from the NKJV and still follow along with either a KJV or an NIV. Since the goal of preaching is to teach people what the bible says in order to bring about a life-change, it makes obvious sense to use a bible that they can understand in the first place.
This is a very small sacrifice on my part. I do it because it is what I believe will most build up the body here at Chevis Oaks. So far it seems to be working well.