Podcast: 10 Steps to Effectively Plan A Sermon Series

The purpose of this podcast episode is not to explain how to prepare in individual sermon, but more generally a sermon series.


A lot goes into this . . .


  1. Pray


If you don’t begin the process for any sermon preparation or series planning without prayer, then you’re operating in the flesh. Stupid alert!


Sometimes, I’ll put on social media that I’m going into a time of planning and I need my prayers warriors to intercede for me. Don’t skip this . . . PRAY!


  1. Exegete the Community and Church You Serve


Break apart details of what is going in your community and God’s congregation entrusted to you. For example, in July 2015, a terrorist killed several Army recruiters in Chattanooga (where I pastor). Obviously, this was a big thing going on in our community. I had to address this.


Always exegete the community and church to make sure you’re going to preach a series the Spirit needs to communicate specifically to them.


  1. Determine What Series You’ll Preach


Out of everyone reading this, people have different approaches to preaching topical, expository, or a combination thereof that I call “expopical.” I rotate through preaching a book of the Bible every summer, and “expopical” in the bulk of the fall and spring seasons of the church. The point of this post is not to debate that. I’m just telling you what I do. For example, if I’m preaching a series on revival and I need to address repentance, I’ll preach 1 Samuel 7:1–14. The next week, I’ll address prayer from Acts 4:23–33.


You must simply pick out a series to preach, whether it’s a series about the family or a series through a book of the Bible.


  1. List, in General, What Individual Sermons You’ll Preach


Within a series, you need to determine the specific dates, texts, and general topics or approaches you’ll take. I like to keep most series 4–6 weeks in length. At the time of this writing, I’m concluding a ten-week series through the ten commandments, and it feels a bit too long for my taste.


  1. Write A Brief Description of the Series


I like to write a brief description of the series. This should be just 3–4 sentences in length. This should do two things: (1) Serve as a draw to get people to come and listen to it; and (2) Let people know what to expect.


Here is an example of the next series I’m preaching, “Christmas at the Movies,” . . .


Shopping, sipping hot chocolate, and wrapping presents aren’t your only traditions during the Christmas season. You watch your favorite movies! In this series, we will utilize some of your favorite Christmas movies as a launching pad into the Bible.


  1. Read the Texts in Several Versions and Do Initial Exegesis for Each Message within the Series


I like to line up various versions of the Bible in my Logos software, then crank through simply reading through the various versions and noticing little differences. You could do the same thing with BibleGateway.com.


Then, I note key words for which I need to do word studies to understand the text better. Of course, I read what’s going on in the Bible before and after the text I’m preaching for the sake of proper hermeneutics to understand context more easily.


Then, read through commentaries for each text and type some key things into your notes.


At this point, you have a solid grasp of the entirety of the series, and are more prepared as you pray through the entirety of the series. Plus, this process gives you an idea if you need to acquire any resources, e.g. books or commentaries, to enhance your preparation process.


  1. Brainstorm About Digital Media, Stage Design, and Creative Ideas for the Series


Click here to see “10 Tips for Amazing and Inexpensive Church Stage Design.”


What I like to do is talk with my friends, staff members, or church members to get ideas for how to package the series with a polished approach. Click here to read “9 Ancillary Tools, Other Than Your Actual Notes, Involved in Delivering A Sermon.”


  1. Go through the Process of Delegating All Ideas for the Series to Staff, Volunteers, or Vendors


Whether you need something designed for graphics, stage design, someone to order a book for you, or promote some things about the series on social media, begin the delegation process. Develop one major email for the series where you give specific assignments and deadlines for all parties involved.


  1. Advertise the Series


Click here to read a post I’ve written about “Seven Tips to Effectively Advertise Sermon Series.” Promote the tar out of it. You’re preaching Jesus to people . . . let them know about it!


  1. Preach the Series


Alrighty, be ready to straight up preach this thing. You’ve gone through all of the hard work to plan the series. Move it from theory into practice.


Do you have any additional thoughts about sermon series planning? Let me know in the comments below.


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