I preach a lot of sermon series. I don’t always preach a sermon series, and when I’m not in the middle of one, I do preach lectionary (for the most part). However, I love preaching sermon series. It helps me to center my preaching, it makes it easier to write sermons, and it gives a rounder lesson to what I’m teaching on.
Sermon series are a lot of work upfront, but it makes less work later one. For one, I can tell you exactly what scriptures I’m preaching on for at least a few weeks out, which means less panic when it comes time for the bulletin.
I tend to do a series, take 2-4 weeks off and then start a new one. It gives a break, a time for absorption, a time for the meanings to really settle in. The last two sermon series I did went along with Bible Studies we were doing in both of my congregations. I would do my sermon after the lesson for the week because then my sermon wouldn’t change the viewpoint of some of those participating in the studies.
The one before that was a series on the book of Acts. I found a series already done online through the United Methodist Church, and I took it and modified it to be a bit shorter. I didn’t cover the entire book of Acts, but I did preach 8 times on the main themes in the scriptures.
I’ve done a sermon series on stewardship back in September of last year. In that case, I did a lot of research, found four topics that I think really spoke to stewardship in the faith sense rather than the money sense, and then worked sermons from there. I’ve done series through Advent and Lent. The topics sometimes depend on where the churches are in that time. Mission, Expectancy, Faith, Fruits of the Spirit.
You can find them anywhere. The goal behind a series is to be able to build each week on it. It gets difficult when you know that people won’t be attending each week and so you have to briefly overview the previous weeks or at least explain them enough so people can understand the current week. That comes into the craft of the writing of the sermon itself.
Sermon series give the congregations time to focus on just one thing rather than topic-jumping each week. It gives them time to really look at mission in the church, or really understand what stewardship is beyond just a call for more money to pad our budgets. It’s a way for us as ministers to be able to dig down deep into one particular line of theology for awhile and to teach that in multiple ways to the congregants over the course of a longer period of time.
Like I said before, sermon series takes a lot of time and prep, but once they get going, your life is beyond easier. You can even decorate the church to match. The last Advent one I did, we had presents under the tree with the names of the different topics we had each week. That brings more people into the study, more people into the lessons, and it makes it a rounder lesson at that.