ten ways to sink your sermon series

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In visiting churches across the country, I’ve learned that many churches use sermon series to hone their message and encourage people to invite their friends, not just for one week, but perhaps for four or six.

I’ve also noticed that some churches implement sermon series more effectively than others. And some series engage the unchurched better than others. In my experience, you can learn how to do things right from the churches who are doing it wrong.

Here are ten ways to sink your sermon series:

  1. Address questions that no one is asking. Your time is limited, so you’re better off responding to questions people are actually asking. For example: How do I raise my kids? How can I save my marriage? What am I supposed to do with my life?
  2. Schedule your series to last more than six weeks. People often consider a new series as an opportunity to invite their friends. The longer the series drags on, however, the less likely those they invite will come.
  3. Pack your church calendar so full that inviting friends to worship isn’t a priority. More activities and ministries on the schedule results in less focus on weekend services. Ask yourself: What is our primary way of reaching people who don’t attend church? If the answer is your weekend service, focus on making that as effective as possible by doing less of something else.
  4. Teach too much in each message. Too many points can confuse your listeners. Pick one point and stick to it. And remember, brevity is your friend.
  5. Teach the truth without life application. People often don’t need more knowledge, but rather, to learn how to put their existing knowledge into action. They know Jesus died for them, but what does this mean for them when their alarm goes off on Monday morning?
  6. Assume the message stands alone. The artistic and worship elements that surround the message should prepare people’s hearts and minds for God’s Word. People must hear the message, but they also need to experience it with their emotions.
  7. Begin a series without appropriate promotion. Launching a series without letting people know it’s coming does no good. How will your members invite people ahead of time? Promote what you’re talking about next—and why they should care enough to attend.
  8. Fail to creatively connect biblical truth with the spiritual conversations in our culture. The Bible has a lot to say on hot topics in today’s culture. And when culture lobs us a softball and opens up a spiritual dialogue, we should be ready to swing the bat.
  9. Plan a series that only connects with people who already attend your church. Want to ignore the unchurched in your community? A surefire way to do this is to preach a sermon series that assumes all of your listeners are already Christians.
  10. Ignore the details. A good series involves more than just developing a message. When a team of experts comes together to plan the entire service experience, there’s a much better chance the series will succeed in imparting truth and reaching more people for Christ.

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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