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The benefits of using your summer to plan out your sermon series for the coming year.
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Thanks for this helpful article, Ken.
I used to be much more "spontaneous" in preaching, but once I moved to service design teams and a larger Staff team, I have had to adjust (teams yield better results generally, but presents a challenge to be responsive to the "winds of the Spirit"). I told one of my Staff recently that I feel restrained by having "series mentality" - I want to call an audible! I like that you give yourself freedom to adjust throughout the year.
Following summer vacation, I take a few weeks to prayerfully plan the entire year. As has been mentioned, balance is important to us here, too - theological, practical life, being on mission, spiritual practices, evangelistic, Bible books and characters, Church vision, stewardship, etc.
Reading your insights, Minho's triangle idea and then Tim's comments, made me realize we need to address culturally relevant issues in series themes more than we do, and not just address them as applications in a message.
I'm preparing now for my summer planning retreat. I will talk with key leaders at church and ask what those they serve are dealing with at present. I take 3 days at least an hour away from church. My wife often stays with me the first evening and leaves the next morning. With the input of my staff in mind I make sure that I offer a healthy dose of OT, NT, topical and character studies. Even if it is a topical message I make sure the text drives the message and series. I think, read and pray during these precious times away and am always amazed at the insight the Spirit gives as I withdraw from the familiar. I usually plan for six months now while I began planning for a year in advance when the church was young. I have been doing this now for 27 years at the same church, and as Ken says I am often concerned about what I am going to preach this year. However, dozens of series and hundreds of sermons later, I can testify that the Spirit still brings fresh insight into His Word.
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