Like other senior pastors, I spend quite a lot of time praying and planning each preaching series. Some of us do it by the term, others by the year. Some even plan by the longer term!
A series invites people to come on a journey of exploration with you. It gives space and time to ponder over the overall message and theme and allows its to penetrate and shape our lives. Personally, I have found preaching one-off topics quite exhausting and, if honest, not that satisfying.
Rick Warren offers a few pointers...
"I rarely preach one-and-done sermons—very rarely. Come to any service at Saddleback and you’ll catch us either at the beginning, middle or end of a series. Why do I do this?
- It builds momentum. Momentum matters in ministry. It’s what keeps your church going in the same positive direction. It isn’t easy moving people in a direction they often don’t want to go. In a series each message builds on each other. Your congregation begins to anticipate the next sermon.
- It creates word-of-mouth advertising. Preaching in a series can be the best advertising you have. Preach on a topic that touches the lives of your congregation, they’ll tell their friends.
- It saves study time. Every time I preach I study more than I can possibly use. Most of us are like that. Often each sermon could be a series. Plus, it takes less time to study for four sermons on a similar topic than sermons on four different topics.
"I always announce a new series on days we expect a lot of visitors, like Easter. It creates a hook that brings many first time visitors back for part two the next week. I think the best length for a series is four to eight weeks. Anything longer than eight weeks causes your congregation to lose interest. They begin to wonder if you know about anything else.
"So if you’re not preaching in series, start now. It’ll build momentum, create its own advertising and save you a time."
And let's remember why we do it.
“To preach Christ is to feed the soul, to justify it, to set it free, and to save it, if it believes the preaching.” - Martin LutherASD