It had been several weeks since Marilyn met Janice at their favorite coffee shop. They gather there regularly to share their friendship, catch up on each other’s family, and complain about what’s wrong with church!
Marilyn began, “What do you think about Pastor Kevin’s sermon series? It seems like lately he has five weeks of this and then eights weeks of that and then six more weeks of something else. I wonder if he’s watching too much television.” Janice concurred, “Yeah, I can’t wait for the final episode. I suppose it will be a two-hour special!”
What about sermon series? Are they good, bad, or inconsequential?
Focus on these issues:
Sermon series provide an opportunity to repeat each week a little of the teaching that occurred the week(s) prior. Repetition is a good and well-known teacher.
A series can reinforce a theme and go deeper on a general topic than the single sermon time allows. People often complain about “seeker preachers” who provide some form of “Christianity lite.” The series concept provides an opportunity to add depth, but to do it over a number of sermons. Sort of like eating the elephant, one bite at a time.
The sermon series encourages people to come back the next week. In fact, when regular church members miss a week because they’re out of town, they often want a recording of what they missed. That rarely happens among pastors who don’t preach a sermon series. Get ready for Pod casting!
The sermon series helps people get in the mindset of the theme before coming to church. This creates a receptive environment in their hearts and minds. Without the series reminder, people often come to church anticipating nothing—and that’s about what they feel they get out of it.
A series built around a common theme allows the artful people in the congregation to provide symbolic visual aids that can be used as communication tools to support each message. These artful symbols can be incorporated into PowerPoint presentations, printed outlines, special bulletin covers, and other symbols that relate to the message placed physically on the preaching platform. It would be impossible to develop that depth week after week, but when there are six weeks to get ready for the next series, it provides an opportunity to support the communication process with symbolic art forms.
The sermon series, known in advance, is a great mechanism for inviting an unchurched friend or neighbor. It is a known fact that if guests come randomly (once or twice a year), they’re not as strongly assimilated as when they come three, four, five, or six weeks in a row.
The idea of a sermon series is probably a good one. That’s why many of your favorite television shows are based around a common theme, but different episodes. It is a great way to teach. It’s a great way for those receiving the teaching to remember. And isn’t that what we want for those who hear the Gospel?
How have sermon series worked in your church? We welcome your comments below.
Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by email, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org