how-to-plan-a-sermon-series-with-impact

How to Plan a Sermon Series with Impact

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Creating a sermon series can feel overwhelming. Maybe you’ve been inspired by a creative hook, but don’t know how to keep the momentum going for multiple weeks. Maybe you can get lost for hours exploring themes and big ideas, but are struggling to distill that information into a format that will actually translate with your congregation.

Planning a sermon series is an organizational art, and one that doesn’t always come naturally to even the most intellectual minds and inspired writers. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to planning your series in advance, here are a few helpful tips for developing series that will magnify the impact of your sermons and hopefully simplify your workflow.

1) Zoom Out and Consider the Year

There are many advantages to planning your sermon series a year in advance. When you consider the entire year, you can make sure your sermons are balanced and diversified throughout the seasons. This method helps you avoid teaching from only a select few passages or books of the Bible, prioritizing to only a few different audiences (like married couples or parents), or teaching on the same topics over and over. These mistakes might seem obvious, but when you are planning only one series at a time, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture.

When you plan a year in advance, you can start with the series you already know will happen, and then build around them. Most churches have a Christmas series, Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day, and a New Year series. Maybe you have a summer cinema series you do every year, or a back to school series. When you know the themes and focuses for these annual series, you can see what is missing from the calendar and plan your new sermon series to fill in the gaps and add balance and perspective for the year.

Planning this far in advance might sound a little intimidating to some people, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be helpful to think of this step as drafting a big picture outline, with broad themes and concepts, rather than zeroing in on detailed talking points and exact scripture references. Ask God for guidance and inspiration as you sketch out your ideas, and be prepared to adjust things as you go and as different needs in your congregation emerge.

2) Crafting a Series and Its Sermons

Now that you know the big themes of your series for the year, it’s time to actually design the series itself. When you’re planning a single series, it’s best to start with a big idea. Ask yourself, “what is the one thing you want the church to take from this series once it’s over?” The answer to this question is your main idea.

This idea is kind of like a destination. You know where you want to go, but how do you get there? Each sermon in a series would advance you toward your metaphorical destination. Think about how each sermon needs to progress in order to bring you and your congregation further along to your main idea. Maybe there are mini ideas that make up your main idea, and each of those mini ideas gets a sermon. Maybe there are steps that lead up to your main idea, and each step gets a sermon. Think about your progression, and how you can break up your series into separate sermons that will relate to each other and build upon each other to express your main idea.

Just like each sermon series has a main idea, each sermon should have their own main idea. While it might be a step in the journey, it’s important that each sermon can stand alone, as well. There might be some people visiting in the middle of a series, others who go on vacation halfway through. The best sermons can stand alone as edifying and lifegiving, while also furthering the plot of the series as a whole. The way you make it so is by giving each sermon its own clear main idea or takeaway.

Now, your main idea for the series as a whole for an individual sermon might be inspired by a passage of scripture, a need in your congregation, or something else entirely. Great! If you start with scripture, you already know the text you’ll preach from. If you start with the idea itself, consider the best passages to ground your sermon. Once you know the scripture you’ll use in each sermon, you can begin to outline your talking points, research from commentaries, and find your real life application.

Lastly: THANK YOU!

Thank you, pastors, for sharing the Word, your wisdom, and your heart with us, week after week. Planning a series can sometimes feel like a lot of puzzling, but when you break it into little steps, those pieces can all fall into place. Be sure to keep your main idea focused and continue to seek the Holy Spirit for inspiration and guidance for how to best communicate with your church.

Emma Tarp, Author

About the Author

Emma Tarp is a writer and worship leader based in Minneapolis, MN. On her best days, she's highlighter-deep in a good book or teaching herself to sew. On her other best days, she's helping passionate folks and inspired businesses put words to their work. Find out more at emmatarp.com.

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