While some scripture texts and topics can be adequately dealt with in a “stand-alone” sermon, other texts and issues are better suited for a sermon series. A sermon series allows you to delve deeper into a text or subject than a stand-alone sermon. A sermon series is used when the material is simply too much to be covered in a single sermon.
A series can be as short as three sermons or as long as eight. Less than three is just not enough to make a real series. More than eight is probably too long for people to connect all the parts to the whole.
A series should have an overall theme. Each sermon in the series will address some aspect of that theme. For maximum effectiveness, some sort of review will be necessary during each sermon to connect the individual sermons to the whole series. Handouts tend to help the series be more effective because it provides a written summary of the entire series after it is completed. If the series would interest the community, it can be used as an outreach tool.
Creating a strong series of sermons is a lot of work. It is easy to question the validity of all that work once the series is over, especially if there were no immediate results from the series. However, a sermon series can continue to be useful long after all the sermons have been preached.
Ways to use a sermon series after it is complete:
1. Use CDs/DVDs of the series to give to church visitors as a welcome gift. This is especially helpful if it is a series that explains what the church believes.
2. Use CDs/DVDs of the series as an outreach tool to the community. This is especially helpful if it covers some topic that might be of interest to the greater community, such as how to be an effective parent, or how to have a happy marriage or how to manage personal finances.
3. Use CDs/DVDs to build a “library” of the church’s teaching on a particular subject. This is especially helpful if the church has a lending library so that people can check the series out.
4. Distribute CDs/DVDs to those who have become home bound temporarily or are residents at a nursing home. This allows them to keep up with what is being taught at church.
5. Use the series to provide theological training to others. This is especially helpful if others in the church want to become pastors or lay ministers.
6. Convert the sermon series into a weekend seminar or week long revival so it can be used again.
7. Publish the series on YouTube so that the general public can have access to the information as well.
8. Convert the notes from the sermon series into a booklet that can be mass produced and distributed widely.
Though creating a strong series of sermons can be a lot of work, by using the series in other ways besides the original intent, it can be well worth the effort.
If a guest minister or lay preacher only has to fill the pulpit from time to time, then each sermon might be independent of the others. But when a person becomes part of a pastoral leadership team and begins to preach on a more regular basis, then it at some point that individual will end up either preaching an entire sermon series or preach one sermon in a series that the rest of the team is helping to preach. Therefore, understanding the value of using a sermon series is important.
This is an excerpt from a chapter in the book, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway. The book contains six easy to use training sessions that helps lay people assist their pastor in ministry.