3 Helpful Places to Go for Sermon Series

3 Helpful Places to Go for Sermon Series

I love preaching in a series. I made this confession in a previous article and outlined some of the many benefits of preaching in a series. This raised a question by several readers: “I was wondering where you all come up with your sermon series ideas?” That is a great question! Here are three primary places we go to for ideas.

3 Helpful Places to Go for Sermon Series

1. We “Beg, Borrow, and Steal.”

Okay…we do not actually steal because that would be sinning. But we have been known to beg! What I have found is that most larger churches are more than willing to share their series with smaller churches. For example, Compassion Christian in Savannah, Christ Church of the Valley in Phoenix, Life.Church which is led by Craig Groeschel, and Crossroads Community Church in Cincinnati, are all more than willing to send you everything they have. This often includes graphics, titles, and even sermon outlines. All for free. All you need to do is ask.

Sometimes this is the best starting place for a “series skeleton.” I call it a “skeleton” because I think it is best to borrow the idea and direction of a series and then “hang the meat” on the skeleton. In other words, I like to make the series our own.

For example, we are currently in a series titled The Colors of Christmas. This series deals with the emotional colors of the Holiday Season. The series was developed by Christ Church of the Valley and they graciously shared everything with us.

Each week I listen to the message they preached and then decide how much of it I will use. I am always careful to give credit where credit is due. This past week, I said, “The outline for today’s message was developed by Dr. Don Wilson.” The illustration, application, and tone of the message were mine. The outline was his. I made sure to say this.

A great site dedicated to sharing a sermon series idea every single weekday is seriesideas.com. If it’s not bookmarked in your browser, I highly recommend you change that.

I pray this makes sense? I believe it is very important to make the message/series your own. We each have our own context and it matters to speak to the people who are in our church, not the people is someone else’s church. At the same time, I realize that Mega Churches have resources that are not available to smaller churches, and especially to bi-vocational ministers. So, when they are willing to share their graphics, outlines, and series I take full advantage of their generosity.

2. We purchase a series.

There are a lot of good message series for sale. Many of these come with outlines, graphics, promo videos, small group materials, and bumper videos. Not a Fan, Forty Days of Purpose, and The Story are all classic examples. They can be a bit pricey but are often worth it because you get the whole package. One great and reasonably priced option is Ministry Pass. You can even get a 14-day free trial. Again, I do think it is important to give credit where credit is due. Let people know where the series came from and then use it fully.

Typically, we do not go this route more than once a year, but when we do purchase a series we go all in. We play the promo videos, use the graphics, and work the material into our small groups. These packages are often sold as “All Church Experiences” and a lot of time and effort has gone into making sure that the entire church has the experience together. Sometimes there are even materials for children and youth. We use them all. Our thought is that if we are going to do the experience we should get the full experience.

Frankly, at times this is a tough sell. It can be hard to get everyone on board with an All Church Experience, especially if your small groups, Sunday School Classes, or Youth Groups are working through their other materials. However, if you give leaders a 6-12-week heads up most are more than willing to pause and join the experience. After you do this once everyone will want to do it again. These experiences can be very unifying.

3. We generate “BCC Original Series.”

At least 3-4 times a year we come up with a series on our own. Admittedly, these can often take more time than borrowing or buying but they are well worth the investment. I use a team (the Creative Planning Team) to generate ideas and to shape the direction of the series. I am always amazed by the ideas they generate and challenged to preach on subjects that I may otherwise avoid.

For example, this year we generated a series called Remarkable Women of the Bible and another titled, Spiritual Gifts. For both, we brainstormed as a team and set the direction for the series. Our graphics guy developed a graphic and others helped to build stage props. Both were great series that challenged the church.

For 2018 we are working on a 10-week series on the miracles of Jesus. I sat down with one other guy for three hours and we looked at all of Jesus’ miracles, chose 10, determined the order, and titled the series, The Difference Jesus Makes. It is our brainchild and it is fun to know that we have built this series from the ground up.

These are the three places I go for Sermon Series. All three work well when I take the time to craft the individual messages for the church where I preach.

Nathan Hardesty is the Senior Minister at Bridgetown Church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio. Nathan has been in a church leadership role since 2003 and loves spending time with his family, hanging out with friends, fixing up his old house, teaching, and preaching.

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