Since launching Ministry Pass almost 7 years ago, our team has created over 12,000 sermon series- enough series to literally last a few lifetimes. Today, we’ll share some of the best practices for creating sermon series we’ve discovered along the way.
Whenever you come across ideas, images, or illustrations, make a habit of writing them down. Then, you’ll have a list of illustrations and options that you can use whenever you write a sermon. Likewise, make it a habit to write down your ideas for the series themselves. That way, when you sit down to create a sermon series, your mind isn’t blank. You’ll have already begun to think through and pray through what you’ll be preaching next.
If you know what topics you’re preaching over the next year, whenever you hear an idea or a story you can use for an illustration, you can save it to use later. You may not use all of the ideas you have, but you can sift through for your best ones.
Sermonary, our cloud-based sermon-writing software, can help you record your ideas. So if you have an idea and know you want to create a sermon series but you aren’t preaching it yet, you can create a new sermon series in Sermonary, add the first week, and just drop all of your ideas in there! You can use quote blocks to record quotes, add images, and even add passages that come to mind as you study this topic. Then, walk away and it will stay in your collection in your dashboard on sermonary, waiting for you to return to it.
Plan with the End in Mind
When you read the books of Scripture, it’s clear that the authors wrote with the end in mind. Near the end of the gospel of John (Chapter 20, verse 31), he states his purpose for writing: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” Similarly, if you read through Romans or Galatians, Paul had a main point that he was working toward as he wrote.
So, when you’re planning a sermon series, start by asking these two questions:
- What’s my end goal?
- After I’ve preached through this series, what do I want people to do next?
Are they going to be inspired and equipped to evangelize? Are you going to push them toward a specific discipleship path? Whatever your goal is, figure it out and make the series work toward it.
What you don’t want to do is dream up a cool idea or angle for your series without having a goal. You need to be able to summarize what people should be learning in one sticky statement, so they’ll remember it- and you should probably come up with this statement before you even name your series. This statement doesn’t have to be clever, but it does have to be clear. So ask yourself these questions as well:
- What am I trying to say about God’s Word in this series?
- What is one principle or idea that I can communicate that six months from now still sticks?
Determine How This Topic Impacts People’s Lives
If you want to know how what you’re preaching impacts people’s daily lives, do your research! In addition to researching what God’s Word has to say about it, research your topic in pop culture, and pay attention to what people are sharing about this topic in their personal lives. You can literally search Facebook to see posts on any keyword that you want to search! This will give you a wealth of information that will help you speak directly to what people are experiencing in their lives.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a great exercise for researching pop culture: go through a list of the Billboard Top 10 songs and the top grossing movies of the year, and see what these pop cultural icons have to say about the topic you’re preaching about. You don’t have to talk about these things in your sermon, but it gives you perspective on what our culture teaches about your topic. Then, you can contrast it with what the Bible says, and begin addressing and bringing God’s truth to those issues. Often, when you can connect God’s timeless truths to something in pop culture, it becomes even more powerful.
Map Out Each Sermon in the Series
Before you ever start getting into sermon prep, you’re going to want to ask yourself, “What’s the big idea of this message and passage that I’m using?” You want to determine how long the message is going to be, and the structure: are you using a three-point method or more of an apologetics format? You’ll also want to outline the main passage of Scripture you’re using.
Having your topic, main idea, length, structure, and passage mapped before you start writing will make a huge difference! As you’re planning, you’ll also want to consider who’s preaching this message and what’s happening in other ministries. Can you coordinate with your kids ministry so that parents and kids can talk about it at home? What about your student ministry or adult small groups?
That’s another great thing about Sermonary! As you’re mapping out your series, you can create a sermon for each message in the series, and drop in blocks as you discover ideas- even if that series isn’t happening for weeks or months!
Begin Planning in Advance
If you’re not currently planning in advance, start by planning five to six weeks out, and then start going further. Once you get ahead on your planning, it allows you to go deeper with everything you preach. Of course, you’re going to want to be flexible and in prayer. After all, the Holy Spirit can speak to you six months in advance and tell you the sermon He wants you to speak on, but He can also speak to you a week in advance. So be sensitive to His leading, but having a plan will enable you to think and pray about where God wants you to be with your speaking.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out our sermon topics page. There are tons of ideas that you can draw from as you’re building a roadmap for your sermon content. Another great option is to check out our variety of sermon calendars. We’ve already done the planning and prep work and gotten a head start on the research, so all you have to do is put together your message.
If you’re ready to start planning your own series, download our sermon series planner pdf! It breaks down these steps point by point so that you can work on it with your team.