One of the difficult tasks a preacher has is to decide what should be the focus of a Sunday sermon. Traditionally this difficult decision is narrowed down through lectionary preaching, a predetermined cycle of assigned texts appointed for each Sunday of the year from which a Pastor can chose to preach.
However, I prefer to preach through sermon series, where the truth learned one week is built upon in the succeeding weeks. In order to accomplish this, I ask myself three driving questions, consider the balance needed through the year, and then make a concrete but flexible plan.
THREE DRIVING QUESTIONS
As I begin my planning, here are some of the big questions I ask:
- What has God been teaching me? One thing I’ve learned over recent years is that what God does for me He wants to do through me for others (2 Cor. 1:3-4). This goes for every follower of Jesus. If Jesus disciples you in some area of life, He desires that you disciple others in what you’ve learned. This is no different for a preacher. When we ask this question in preparing to preach, it can produce the most powerful sermons and series because we’re preaching a truth and grace that we’ve experienced and therefore one that is more easily touched, felt and seen through us.
- What do our people need? This question is all about applying the liberating truth of the Gospel. As pastors we need to know well the people God has placed under our care. We need to know the lies they are believing, promulgated through the media and pop culture – lies that subtly change how they view themselves and God. We need to know of our peoples’ brokenness, struggles, relationships, heartache, and doubts and then mine the word of God for the raw grace and truth that realign their worldview, heal their souls, reestablish their identity as God’s children, and empower them to live for Him.If your church is larger, poll the congregation regarding where they are confused about the faith, where they are struggling, or what they’ve always wanted to know. Ask these questions in the classes, boards, small groups, or missional communities you participate in. Ask leaders in your congregation these same questions concerning those under their care.
- Where do we need to go? This question is all about mission and vision. For me, mission and vision are always about Gospel-motivated and Spirit-empowered multiplication of disciples, discipleship groups, leaders, and churches. This theme should be touched upon at least monthly so that we never lose focus of the reason we exist, yet also be addressed more thoroughly in a yearly series…Read the rest of the article here