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The Next Big Thing

How series are changing to keep up with the times.

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In a recent N.Y. Times Magazine interview, three TV executives commiserate over the pressure to come up with a new, blockbuster sitcom or dramatic series. A successful series not only captures a large audience for that time slot, but serves as an anchor show that secures viewers for the entire evening, and positions the network in the marketplace. In the words of one of these media moguls, "Everyone's looking for the next Friends."

Preaching pastors feel their pain. We're always in search of the next sermon series. For me, the most vexing question in preaching is not, How will I preach this text? but, What will I preach next? Like those executives, we know that an effective sermon series not only captures the attention of the listeners for thirty minutes a week, it breathes life into other ministries and shapes the culture of the church.

Series preaching is not a new idea. I grew up under a pastor who routinely preached his way through books of the Bible or relevant topics, and I have followed ...

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