I recognize that this blog won’t apply to a lot of people. But I have a tremendous heart for pastors. Also, I know that everyone has their preference in preaching styles whether you are the one delivering the message or you are the listener. I’m not writing to proclaim that my style and/or approach is the best. But over the past few months, this topic has been asked of me over coffee, text, and social media. So I thought I’d put out a simple blog together that would share my heart to the approach that I’ve taken with proclaiming the Good News.
Why do I preach in series…because it…
1. …prevents the “Buffet Effect.” People walk away from the table saying, “I don’t know what I ate but it was good.” Just my opinion, but I feel this is a travesty to preaching. We gorge our congregations on so much information with hour+ long sermons. We give people SO MUCH info that they don’t know what to do with it. At thanksgiving, the massive meal makes me want to go take a nap. I’m afraid our long-winded sermons have the same effect. Old-school peeps walk away feeling great because we just “had church.” In reality, we are giving so much information that it becomes difficult to digest. Nobody wants to move after Thanksgiving. Preaching should move us to response. My preaching philosophy: give smaller portions as to make sure the word is received, understood, digested, and able to facilitate growth.
2. …helps identify the “veins” that run through scripture. I love the word. It is a part of my daily life. I’m always astounded to see the variety of topics and thoughts carried throughout the entire narrative of scripture. It’s the method of “series” that can open the eyes of an individual to not just hear about it on Sunday but disciple him/her to read their scripture in the same way.
For example, I’m very passionate about the table practice of Jesus. To read about those welcomed at His table will transform you and your approach to people. It’s my hope that after preaching about “The Table” (which I’ve done twice), that every time people would see the word “table” in scripture, they’d reflect upon what is being done/accomplished at the table they’re reading about. 2 Samuel 9, David’s heart was to honor his friend Jonathan by reaching out to Mephibosheth. Where did David place him at? The king’s table like on of the king’s sons. The table is a place of restoration, kindness, and hope. Just like the table of Jesus.
3. …brings singularity of focus. This is very similar to #1 but with a bit of a difference. It helps us long-winded pastors to break the message down to a palatable size. The additional thing I’d add to it is it helps you take the time to really dive into the nitty-gritty of what the Lord has laid on your heart. Before “series preaching,” I’d walk away from message bummed I didn’t spend more time on Point #2 or Point #5. Instead of preaching 4 point messages, I can preach a 4 message series and really bring to focus the things that the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart.
4. …is a chance to make the Word practical. It’s not that I couldn’t do that before. It’s just that I had so much info that the practics got lost in all the information. If our people don’t know how to live it, then we are missing the mark. Series open up the congregation to “come and see” as well as “go and do.” Series give me the chance to really talk about how what is being talked about “in here” looks “out there.”
5. …it opens up the door for discipleship. So many churches struggle with discipleship. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons is because pastors think that discipleship is accomplished by an hour+ long sermon. Think of the variety of generations of people who come out to a service from a multiplicity of backgrounds, with varied spiritual depths. It’s a challenge enough to speak to everybody, let alone think that we can completely disciples everyone in the room. I won’t say that levels of discipleship don’t happen. But your Sunday AM (or Saturday PM), can’t be your sole discipleship time. Series can really be a plus to your discipleship communities (small groups, one-on-one discipleship, etc) by giving them a focal point to go deeper. If the series is on evangelism, your discipleship communities can take the message/series to a deeper place through conversation, community study, and coffee (which I think is always a necessary part of discipleship).
Again, it’s not about twisting your arm to do what fits me. This is my answer to the question that’s ben asked and it’s the method that has worked for me as a pastor. It’s what I enjoy. BUT…I remember what Rick Warren tweeted out about 5 years ago:
Anyone that us unwilling to break their series to deal with a church issue is a slave to their method.
We are servants of Christ and not a method. We proclaim Him and His Kingdom and not our empire.
In whatever method you use, proclaim Jesus with passion and conviction and watch Him change lives.
Thanks for letting me ramble…