Monday, January 20, 2014

The Value of a Topical Sermon Series

I currently serve as the co-pastor of Faith Fellowship Church, which meets on the campus of the University of Hartford. Though we normally use expository preaching, we are just finishing up a topical sermon series on the Power of Prayer. Though a sermon series does not have to be topical, it often is. There are many good reasons to use a topical sermon series, even if expository preaching is one's favorite method. A topical sermon series allows you to delve deeper into a particular subject than a stand-alone sermon or an expository. A sermon series is useful when the material is simply too much to be covered in a single sermon or from a single passage of scripture.

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 is also helpful to post the notes from each sermon on a blog or Facebook page, so that people who miss one of the sermons can stay up to date. 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.

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.


  1. Thanks for this info on topical sermons. Our pastor has been on these for sometime, and I can understand the need for such, I am Hungry for the old Gospel ,why Jesus died on the cross. I realize the new generation may be uncomfortable hearing this BUT this IS the road to Heaven,no?

  2. Agree with you pastor. For that reason we have always loved Selwyn Hughes' "Everyday with Jesus" . We are now with selwyns "Songs for the road" Meditations on the 'Song of Ascents' Praise God .