Every Monday I post one of The Basics. The Basics are simple steps every church can take to grow. They are the same steps that led my church from 87 people in attendance to over 700. These steps have helped my church see hundreds of people saved and baptized in just a few short years. Most of these steps you can take this week without even having a board meeting. These are The Basics.
Many people ask me what change had the biggest impact on our church growth. While I believe it wasn’t one change, but a series of changes tied to a vision to reach the unchurched in our community, perhaps the change with the biggest impact was switching from stand-alone sermons to sermon series.
For the first nine months of our church launch, we did stand-alone sermons. It was what everyone else in our community did. It was all we really knew. But after seeing our church go from 87 people in attendance on our first Sunday service to averaging 86 in attendance in our first year, we decided to make some changes.
So, why sermon series? I can think of four very good reasons to switch.
- Time to Prepare – I know far too many pastors who wait until Saturday night to start preparing their message for Sunday. My pastor was one of them. When we changed to a sermon series based model, it forced us to be better prepared, which in turn led to less stress each week. Now we’re planning four to six week series, months in advance. These series have a big idea, and each message in the series compliments that idea.
- Big Ideas Generate Big Interest – It’s hard to market or advertise a message you’re just coming up with on Saturday night. But when you plan a series in advance, you have time to advertise them, which in turn garners interest from those inside and outside your church. Every year we do at least one marriage series, and we usually place it around Valentine’s Day. We let our congregation know a couple weeks in advance so they can invite friends and family. By doing this, we have some of our biggest crowds of the year.
- Time to Get Creative – One of the best parts of planning sermon series is your ability to get creative with them. Because you’re planning them in advance, you and your team now have time to think of creative ideas that will enhance the message or series. Creative elements are so important in helping your congregation retain the message. Many years ago we had a toilet up on stage for a sermon titled “Toilet Water”. It was all about what couples allow themselves to consume and the harmful effects it can have on a marriage. Needless to say, people still bring up this sermon years later.
- People Remember Series not Sermons – If you ask anyone in our congregation the first sermon they heard at my church, very few could answer. But if you ask what series we were in, almost all of them could remember. Why? For one, they normally have a visual of the logo. We remember pictures better than words. Two, we spend weeks covering the same topic, and what gets repeated gets remembered. Isn’t that part of the goal? I mean we spend all this time preparing sermons, and don’t you want the congregation to remember what you spoke about? If you do, commit to doing sermon series.
What are some other benefits of doing sermon series? What are some drawbacks? I’d love to hear your opinions, just leave a comment below.