Christmas is Over. Are You Considering a Sermon Series for the New Year?
It’s likely your team of staff and volunteers start talking about the Christmas message weeks and maybe even months in advance. Let’s face it – Christmas in the church can be slightly chaotic.
From the guest experience that likely comes with Christmas cookies, coffee, and hot cocoa to the production elements and the worship sets your team is going to execute, it’s no wonder you are exhausted just thinking about it.
Christmas services are met with a great deal of care and responsibility – on the one hand, you have the excitement that surrounds the joy of the season along with the expectancy of many new faces who will likely step into your church for the very first time.
On the other hand, however, this “extra special” season brings with it extra planning, extra details, and extra time spent to implement something far beyond what is normal for a typical weekend at your church.
It’s no wonder that Christmas comes and goes and you’re left with little to no energy going into the new year. Maybe you’re even wondering how in the world you’re going to pull off a new or creative approach to the messages you preach in the weeks following Christmas.
But, what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if the weekend after could be just as well executed as Christmas, without all the “extra” elements?
What if you could actually come out of Christmas with a plan, purpose, and intention that will leave your guests feeling blessed and even inspired to keep coming back? Better yet, inspiring them to shift their focus towards Christ as they approach a “new year, new you” mentality?
This is all possible and very achievable regardless of your staff (or lack thereof), budget, or capacity. Keep reading!
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the barriers that exists when it comes to preaching a New Year’s Sermon Series and look at the obvious concerns you may be facing when considering such a project.
We’ll also uncover some of the benefits of a New Year’s Sermon Series and explain how this timely message topic can help you and your church while also aid in furthering the message of the Gospel.
So let’s dive in, shall we?
Should I or Should I Not Preach a New Year’s Sermon Series?
The easy answer is “yes, you should.”
A New Year’s Sermon Series is not just a natural next step following Christmas. It’s not just a tired theme that so many have poorly executed in the past. New Year’s is much, much more, and a New Year’s series not only honors a long-time tradition, but is a chance for your church to reach people in a new way with a fresh perspective of hope as they enter into a new season.
Let’s first take a look at the history that surrounds this holiday.
The History and Tradition of New Years
Not only does the New Year literally mark the first day of a new calendar year, it naturally represents new beginnings, a fresh start, and offers a perspective of hope to people from all over the world.
The typical tradition of New Year’s resolutions is a prime example of a regular and accepted practice that many among us have participated in. With each new literal year comes a chance to start fresh, set goals, and in some cases, offers us a “clean slate” so to speak.
With a new year, it can feel like the past is behind you and nothing is unattainable… the possibilities are endless.
In an article about the History of New Year’s Resolutions from history.com, it states that “The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago.”
It goes on to elaborate that,
“during a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be.”
Interestingly enough, this article touches on the practice of early Christians who established a tradition of seeing the new year as a chance to look at past mistakes and learn how to do better in the year ahead.
It states that, “in 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as watch night services, they included readings from Scriptures and hymn singing, and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year.”
Humanity has been celebrating the new year for thousands of years. The idea surrounding new beginnings and a fresh start has been around a long time, and it’s likely because we have a natural attraction to achieving goals and an ingrained desire to learn from our mistakes and reach a greater potential.
Despite our shortcomings, most of us are striving for more and the New Year tradition compliments that very desire to continue aiming for a better version of ourselves.
This alone is a great opportunity for the church to leverage these traditions, and preaching a timely and creative New Year’s Sermon Series is a great way to do just that.
So now that we’ve unpacked some of the history surrounding the New Year’s tradition, let’s consider some of the barriers you may be facing when it comes to preaching your own New Year’s Sermon Series at your church.
The Barriers of Preaching a New Year’s Sermon Series
There are always reasons NOT to do something. Sometimes those reasons are valid, while other times it’s an issue of comfort, confidence, or one of the most common excuses – time.
Time is an age-old excuse we use to get out of responsibilities or things that we just don’t want to add on to our plate. Time is one of our most valuable resources – as it should be – and it’s no wonder we go to such great lengths to protect it.
In fact, if you don’t protect it, you easily get worn down by the overwhelming amount of tasks and
You are only one person and sometimes the demand of running a church, shepherding a congregation, and pastoring your people through their hurts, struggles, fears, and insecurities while also counseling them can be a tall order.
Not to mention, you likely have huge commitments to family – your spouse, children, and even friends demand a great deal of your time and, let’s be honest, they make you better.
Relationships take intionality and your intentionality begins with your time. No one understands the value of time quite like a pastor.
When approaching the holiday season at a church, it’s easy to feel short on your most valuable commodity. In fact, it’s even wise for us to let go of some of our other duties we’re committed to so that we can be present in a more demanding season that obviously requires a great deal from us.
You are wise to say no to certain things – especially during the holiday season. Not only does it help create margin in your life, saying no allows you to say yes to your more important priorities.
Time is easily the number one barrier to you preaching a New Year’s Sermon Series, and we get it. In addition to your time (or lack thereof), there are probably many other questions running around your mind when you think about preaching a New Year’s Sermon Series or message at the end of the year.
- How in the world am I going to plan a New Year’s Sermon Series on top of Christmas Eve?
- My staff and volunteers have worked so hard, shouldn’t I give them some time off?
- Won’t planning another series after Christmas take more time away from my family?
- Won’t there be lower attendance the weeks immediately following Christmas?
- Isn’t it “cliche” to do a New Year’s Sermon Series?
- How will preaching a New Year’s Series actually help people?
- Is it even worth my time?
We completely understand. These are all valid questions and you may have even more hurtles and barriers up against you, such as funding, building campaigns, or being short on staff and/or volunteers – especially during the holiday season.
The reasons to not do a New Year’s Sermon Series are there and likely valid. We are all facing our own battles and personal setbacks that result in us having an obvious resistance towards things that are potentially burdensome or obligatory.
But we want to help you see it from a different angle. We want to show you how preaching a New Year’s Sermon series will actually benefit you and your congregation.
We want to help you feel motivated to preach a New Year’s Sermon Series because of how it combats some of those questions and concerns you’ve been having.
So let’s take a look at the benefits this type of series could provide and maybe even break down the barriers that currently stand in your way.
The Benefits of a New Year’s Sermon Series
One of the timely benefits of the New Year’s Sermon Series is that it offers specific and appropriate content that also bridges the gap between your Christmas Eve services and the larger winter series you are likely to launch in January.
Offering a New Year’s message or mini sermon series is a great way to take a step back after the holidays and prepare for the next big series that you’ll be teaching on in the new year.
Why Not Skip a New Year’s Sermon or Mini Series and Go Straight Into a Larger January Series?
Now you may be wondering why you wouldn’t just launch that big January series right off the bat. Here are a few reasons why you wouldn’t.
1. Expect Lower Attendance Over New Year’s Weekend
Typically, people are on break during the holidays. Kids are out of school, lots of people are off work, and if they’re not off, they take vacation during this break to be with their families and friends.
You also have a lot of people traveling out of town during the winter break, so naturally, your attendance is going to be down.
It’s also important to consider that you’ll likely have some of your highest attendance on Christmas Eve. This is mostly due to the fact that it’s traditionally expected to go to church on Christmas Eve.
Most people – even if they don’t attend regularly, or even often – will make an appearance on Christmas Eve. You’ll also have a large number of people who show up who may only go to church twice a year – Christmas and Easter.
Because of this higher attendance and the fact that people are traveling – on break from their regular routine and also just resting after the rush of the holiday season – a lot of regular attenders miss church the week of New Year’s and sometimes even the week after.
Just expect lower attendance on those couple of weeks following Christmas. It’s not a bad thing, just typical, and something you should embrace with some intentionality in your message planning.
If you plan to do a big series in January (which you should), be strategic with your time by waiting until people are likely to be getting back into their routine. This allows others to get settled into their daily schedules, recuperate from the rush of the holidays, and make their way back to church.
Offering a New Year’s Sermon series will allow you to preach on topics that people are already looking for during this time and you can limit it to one or two weeks. This way you’ll meet a need that exists with those in attendance and the ones who aren’t in attendance won’t miss out on your winter kick off series.
2. Allow for much-needed rest for your staff and volunteer teams
We don’t have to state the obvious here – Christmas Eve is like the Superbowl of church services. With it comes a lot of extra planning and execution; the time and energy this demands from your staff and volunteer teams is like no other time of the year.
If you’re church is planning to do a big series kicking off in January, offering a buffer of a New Year’s Sermon message or mini-series is a nice alternative that can give you a reason to “dial back” for a week or two before the next big kick-off.
To accompany this idea, consider doing a laid back worship set focusing on traditional hymns or an unplugged acoustic set, allowing your worship team time off as well.
Additionally, you can spend time focusing in on the theme of the year (will give you some examples later in this article) without having to do a huge amount of prep work.
Most people are in vacation mode during this time of year and are taking time away from their routine, so a message focused on new beginnings and a fresh start are welcome and appreciated.
|And, while we’re talking about breaks, New Year’s weekend is a great time for you to consider taking a week (or two!) off. Consider bringing in a guest speaker, lay pastor, or teaching pastor to preach your New Year’s message.|
This could be someone from your church, one of your friends, colleagues, or another gifted speaker from a nearby church. If you think ahead, you’ll have plenty of time to line this up and give yourself the gift of rest following your Christmas Eve services.
Not only is this healthy for your church, it’s healthy for you and your family and will allow you the much needed time away to come back refreshed and energized to jump into the next year with a whole new sermon series.
For more ideas on how to build a preaching team and to learn why having a preaching team is essential, check out this article.
3. Time to Promote Your Next Big Sermon Series
The third and final reason it’s a good idea to offer a New Year’s Sermon Series or New Year’s message focusing on New Year’s Resolutions or other topics is to give you and your team time to promote and get ready for the next big series launch.
Early to mid January, kids will start school again and families will be coming back from vacation. This means they’ll be getting back into their routines and returning to church. Attendance will be higher, so ideally you’ll want to hold off on your next big series launch for mid to late January.
This gives you plenty of time to promote the series while also giving people time to get back into their routines.
A sermon series focusing on New Year’s coming right out of Christmas is a great way to address a welcome theme that people are already looking for at this time of year, offers your church staff and volunteers the opportunity to unplug, and spend a couple of weeks talking about the next series and encouraging your congregation to invite their friends.
Think about it – you won’t be able to do a ton of traditional promotion leading into Christmas about anything other than that holiday. It just creates extra noise and can also pull the attention away from Christmas Eve, which you don’t want.
Preaching a New Year’s message will give you time to create a buzz about your next big series and you can use those in between weeks to announce the new series, share videos or sermon series graphics, and build out digital promotion through social media, email marketing, or other channels.
A New Year’s Sermon Series Allows You to Leverage What People are Already Looking For
Another benefit of offering a New Year’s Sermon Series is it allows your church to leverage what most people are thinking about during this time of year – resolutions and a way to elevate the way they live their life.
We looked at the history of New Year’s above – the idea of New Year’s resolutions have been around for a long time and it’s not a new concept for people to come to the end of the year and assess the way they’ve lived their lives.
This is a time when people are making goals and solidifying plans that will help them reach those goals. It’s also a time when people feel naturally empowered because a new year offers a fresh start – both literally and figuratively.
Most people love the idea of a clean slate because they can focus on how to correct their mistakes, learn from them, and do better in the year ahead. This is when people feel empowered to make more out of themselves and reach for goals they maybe weren’t ready for in year’s past.
This is a great time for you and your church to leverage what the culture is already looking for, so why not give them godly direction and insight as they strive to make more out of their lives?
Offering a New Year’s Sermon Series and speaking on topics that are prevalent during the New Year’s season is a great way to accomplish this; providing biblical insights to a regularly practiced tradition both inside and outside the church teaches people how to pursue resolutions that are centered on God’s direction for their life.
Now that we’ve covered some of the reasons your church should consider offering a New Year’s Sermon Series, let’s look at some of the ways you can prepare for this type of series and the best, most effective way to promote it.
The Best Ways to Prepare and Promote Your New Year’s Sermon Series
With any sermon series, good preparation is key in order to execute it to its fullest potential. There’s no reason you can’t take this same approach with a New Year’s Sermon series – even though it falls smack dab in the middle of the chaos of Christmas.
Let’s take a look at some practical ways you can plan ahead for your New Year’s Message this coming year.
How to Properly Prepare for a New Year’s Sermon Series
While you may do a good job thinking ahead for Christmas and all the extra planning required to pull that off at your church, it’s important to not forget that New Year’s comes right after – and you’re going to want a plan.
Whether you’re a team of one or many, make sure to plan ahead by treating the New Year’s weekend with the same attention you do for your other sermon series.
It’s easy to get lost in the business of planning for Christmas Eve services or even the next big series after that, but make sure to have a planning meeting that will equip your team to prepare for what’s coming after Christmas Eve.
And do yourself a big favor: plan earlier than normal so the details don’t get lost in the shuffle.
We recommend scheduling out your planning meeting and making sure all the key elements of the service are represented at the meeting. These could include all or some of the following:
- Worship Elements
- Hosting / Greeting
- Giving (end of year elements?)
Try to schedule your meeting at least six weeks prior to New Year’s, and if you can, before the Thanksgiving holiday to avoid some of the busyness of the year.
Make sure to discuss the sermon series or miniseries you plan to teach for New Year’s (we’ll give you some great ideas later in this article), worship elements you want to use to compliment the series, and any other details your team needs to be aware of as it relates to their role in executing the service.
Spend some time working on developing and preparing your message earlier than normal to give yourself plenty of breathing room as you enter the busiest season of the year. We promise – you’ll thank yourself later.
Or perhaps you’ll be hosting a guest speaker or other teaching pastor that weekend, and if that’s the case, make sure they have all their ducks in a row and the rest of your staff and volunteers are prepared as well. This should be lined up several weeks in advance.
Having this type of planning meeting can be helpful in getting everyone on the same page and making sure there is a plan in place for the weekend that follows Christmas. Don’t wait until it’s too late to discuss this and embrace this weekend like you would any other sermon series.
Let’s unpack some ways you can intentionally and strategically promote New Year’s without feeling like you’re competing with your Christmas Eve services.
How to Promote Your New Year’s Sermon Series
Now you may be wondering how in the world you go about promoting a series like this. If you approach the concept of a New Year’s sermon series in the same way you do any other sermon series, you are likely starting to think through a marketing and communication plan.
But how does one go about that on top of the busiest holiday of the year and largest weekend for churches across the world?
Be mindful that this time of year is usually met with lower attendance, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from some light promotion. Of course your focus in the weeks leading up to New Year’s weekend will primarily be about promoting Christmas Eve, that doesn’t mean that New Year’s is forgotten.
As we discuss the idea of promotion, it’s important to remember that there are some unique elements surrounding the New Year’s Eve service, which drives us to tackle promotion for this series a little differently.
The first angle we must consider is, of course, the fact that it’s the week after Christmas Eve. Your church has likely spent weeks getting ready for the biggest holiday of the year for the church, and because of that, you’ve been promoting it during your weekend services and maybe even to the public in the weeks leading up to it.
Just because this is one of the biggest weekends for the church when it comes to attendance, doesn’t mean that church isn’t happening the weekend after. You will most likely have lower attendance, but people will still be looking to worship on New Year’s weekend and it’s important to be intentional about this special weekend.
Another angle you’ll want to consider is that this weekend (much like Christmas) has a theme that comes with it – the topic of New Year’s resolutions and fresh starts are ones that most people will be expecting and actually welcome during this time of year.
With all that in mind, there’s not a lot you have to do about getting the word out regarding services, but it’s still a good idea to share what you’re planning in ways that won’t be overshadowed by Christmas.
Here are some ideas…
Week-of Christmas Email
Email is a powerful tool to communicate what’s going on at your church to regular attenders, and even those who just attend on occasion.
Whether or not you use this tool on a regular basis, it’s an excellent option to consider – especially during the week leading up to Christmas Eve services. You can use this as a way to remind your regular attenders of anything important related to the upcoming service, such as special service times, parking restrictions, what to expect, reminders to invite their friends/family, special giving focus or missions’ partners, to name a few.
You can also throw in a special note at the bottom with a simple invite to make sure they join you the following weekend for your New Year’s Sermon Series. This is a simple invite no more than 2-3 sentences, or better yet, a bumper video that promotes the new series with a simple call to action for them to join you that weekend.
Keep it short and to the point as the focus of this note should be about Christmas Eve, but there’s no reason you can’t include a simple note and invite for what’s to come beyond it.
Christmas Eve Service Host Invite
Your Christmas Eve service is another excellent and timely opportunity to invite all of your guests – new and old – to join you for your New Year’s Sermon Series the following weekend.
It’s best to keep this invite separate from the main Christmas Eve service elements, but could be a simple invite at the top of the service or at the very end as your guests are on their way out.
Bumper videos are powerful promotional tools and an excellent way to communicate the story of what your next series is all about. If you have a bumper video, this would be a great tool to share what you plan to preach on over the New Year’s weekend.
New Guest Communication / Invite
If you have new guests who attend during your Christmas Eve services – which you will – your follow up communication to these new visitors is a great opportunity for you to include an invitation to your upcoming New Year’s weekend services.
A simple email thanking them for attending is a must regardless of what you may be offering the next Sunday. This should be an intentional and heart-felt thank you that expresses how grateful you and your church were to have them as guests over the holidays.
It’s also a perfect opportunity to invite them to come back the next weekend. Simply include a note at the end letting them know you hope they join you for the upcoming New Year’s Sermon Series.
This is an appropriate and powerful way to communicate with new guests and gently promote your New Year’s message in an intentional way.
As simple as it sounds, social media is a great resource your church should be using on a regular basis and and excellent platform for you to promote your New Year’s Sermon series.
Social media is more instant, so it’s best to not start talking about your New Year’s Sermon Series until Christmas Eve is over. Use this platform to share bumper videos, New Year’s series graphics, and other information relating to the sermon.
Ask your congregation to share the posts with their friends and encourage them to invite others who may be needing to hear what you’re preaching about.
New Year’s Sermon Series Ideas for Your Church
So we’ve talked about the benefits of offering a New Year’s Sermon Series and why you should consider this for your church as we near the end of this year.
We’ve also covered ways you can properly and effectively plan for your New Year’s Sermon Series as well as provided some ideas on how you can strategically promote the series, without losing any steam for Christmas Eve.
Now let’s take a look at a variety of New Year’s Sermon Series ideas and some of the very best sermon series options for New Year’s that might be just what you’re looking for your church this year.
10 New Year’s Sermon Series Ideas
This one-week New Year’s message focuses on forgetting the former things and singing a new song to the Lord—and on staying in tune all year long!
This would be a great option if you’re wanting to keep the New Year’s theme to one week. It gives you the option to touch on the new year while you unpack the future and what it means to focus forward with Christ at the center of your life.
Another one-week sermon, this is a perfect New Year’s message angle that’s fun, hopeful, and serves as a reminder that no matter what, we need to understand that God is in control
Help encourage your congregation with the truth that God is in the details of their lives and they can trust their futures in His hands.
This longer, four-week sermon series, is a great option for New Year’s and offers you extra promotion time for your next big series.
The series examines what the Bible says about putting off old behaviors and putting on new ones in our desire to be like Jesus. “Creature of Habit” begins with the need for good habits, looks at two challenging habits to deal with—the tongue and anger—and concludes with Paul’s exhortation that we are to live as light in this darkened world.
This two-week mini sermon series on the book of 2 John explores the importance of truth—both practicing and protecting it.
Rooted in this epistle is a threefold foundation:
- When one knows the truth, love comes naturally.
- When one knows the truth, obedience comes naturally.
- Signs of love and obedience to God is love for one another.
The Hold Fast sermon series paints a beautiful picture of the truth Christian community is built upon, demonstrating that this foundation results in love.
These two ideas—truth and love—are not competing ideals but deeply and inextricably connected necessities for Christian community.
By focusing on the themes of grace and forgiveness, “New” explores God’s characteristic faithfulness to both redeem and purify His people, and offer us a new beginning.
No matter how far we have strayed from God, He offers us a chance to begin again. By taking an in-depth look at the Old Testament book of Zechariah, this 6-week series will both encourage your people, as well as detail the importance of repentance and faithfulness. We serve a God who makes all things new!
This four-week series redefines what makes up The Good Life when seen through the eyes of faith. Examining Jesus’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, this series wrestles with consumerism, fame, and fortune. Together, we will unmask our culture’s superficial ideas of what makes one successful in life, and contrast them with the truths found in God’s Word.
This is a one-week message designed to be used for an event like Mission Sunday or a similar evangelism campaign.
This practical sermon will encourage your congregation to know that everyone is called to make disciples and that therefore everyone should be ready to share their testimony. Your congregation will be exhorted to share the gospel through missions—by participating in prayer, by giving financial support, and by going themselves beyond the walls of the church.
This four-week series meets your guests right where they are – in their pain and brokenness – with a message of hope. We are all broken people with a God of love who heals the broken.
This series explores what it means to start over with Christ and begin the process of spiritual transformation right where we are.
With each new year comes the theme of New Year’s resolutions. Whether people embrace this practice or not, it’s a common theme that we all considered in some capacity.
This three-week series is designed to help individuals critically evaluate their life and, before anything else, put God first.
Teach your congregation the importance of Christ-centered resolutions in this timely New Year’s mini-series.
This three-week series explores the Bible’s command to die to ourselves. How does grace figure into this process of sacrifice and selflessness? How do we respond in the midst of temptation?
It is only when we hit “Game Over” to our old life and embrace God’s grace that we enter into the new life secured by Jesus’s death and resurrection.
These are some examples of a variety of angles you could to your New Year’s Sermon series that offer fresh hope for a truth-centered way of living that will leave your congregation feeling encouraged and equipped to walk in confidence and faith as they step into a new year.
For even more sermon series ideas, check out our huge list of Church Sermon Series Ideas.
A New Approach To Preaching a New Year’s Sermon Series at Your Church
Just because New Year’s brings with it an expected theme, doesn’t mean your sermon has to be unoriginal. You can still give a New Year’s sermon that’s new and comes from a fresh perspective while still using an old idea.
Preaching a New Year’s Sermon series is a great way to connect with your congregation, take advantage of topics that they are already thinking about during this time of year, and teach others what it means to align the way they live their lives with what scripture teaches.
The fact is, you have been called to ministry for a purpose and your unique approach to your New Year’s message this year is one that will never have been told through your perspective.
This is a great chance for you to tackle some big issues that people are facing and dive into what God says about the way we should be living our lives and the importance of taking advantage of the time we have right here and now.
New Year’s is a time to reflect on the past and plan and dream about the future. It’s a chance for you to address what it means to really live your life to the fullest and living your life to the fullest with attention and a focus on the things above.
Take advantage of all New Year’s has to offer by preaching a timely and effective New Year’s Sermon Series that will be sure to empower and equip your church to walk in Truth in the coming year.