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1. Leverage the seasons when folks are most likely to attend church.

I like to launch new series that have a more outreach focus when people are more likely to attend services and invite their friends. Those seasons are cyclical. They depend on where you are located. Obviously, Christmas and Easter are two common times when people are likely to attend church.

2. Find the right balance between “reach people” series and “grow people” series.

There will always be tension here, but the objective is to try to balance out using services to attract a crowd and help people take their next steps in their spiritual journey. At West Ridge, we’ve actually color-coded our teaching calendar to make sure we maintain a healthy balance.

3. Use a variety of approaches to begin your series development.

Teach on a topic one series. Teach through a book of the Bible in another series. Teach a series of messages on a specific biblical character. Use a series to teach through a specific doctrine. Mix up your approach.

4. Address questions that people are asking.

Our tendency is to deliver only the information we want people to hear. People will not engage our teaching unless we are addressing the issues they are facing in their daily lives. A friend of mine routinely reviews the headlines of women’s magazines to get a sense of the topics that people are discussing in today’s culture.

5. Deliver biblical truth and life application.

Your teaching will not produce life change unless you also provide life application. Without application, people may experience conviction or inspiration, but they won’t know what to do with that. Make it a goal in every message to clearly identify one next step for people to take to apply what they’ve learned.

6. Shoot for eight to ten series throughout the year.

Your average series should be four to six weeks. If you’re teaching through a book and it needs to go longer than that, try to break it up into multiple series. Every time you start a series, it creates an opportunity for people to invite their friends. You want more opportunities for people to invite their friends.

7. Plan ahead.

You can wait until Saturday to finish your message, but try to at least outline your topics a couple of months in advance. When you do that, you free up creative people to plan series packaging, service elements, and creative communications to enhance your teaching. You also provide time for appropriate promotions to occur.

8. Plan with a team.

One team may drive the topics that are addressed throughout the year. Another team may drive the series packaging, including identifying titles and visual images. Another team may develop the services elements and execution. Whatever the case, the end result will always be better when you have the right people engaged in a team approach.

9. Remember the people who already attend your church are your best promotions vehicle.

You can spend a lot of money on advertising or direct mail, but the number one way new people will attend your services is through an invitation from someone who already attends your church. Want more people to show up? Make it easier for people to invite their friends.

10. Pastors should teach, and artists should be creative.

The series I’ve experienced with the biggest impact both numerically and in life change have occurred when artists let the pastor drive the teaching and pastors let the artists drive the creative elements. The pastors control this. If they’re willing to empower artists, God can use this creativity to prepare people’s hearts for the message.

I'm a committed follower of Christ. I'm married to the love of my life, Tiffany. We have four adorable kids Cale, Cade, Caris and Case. I'm the Senior Pastor of People's Church in Oklahoma City.

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David Buffaloe

commented on Nov 7, 2012

11. entertain, entertain, entertain

Al Reynosa

commented on Nov 7, 2012

I like the pulse of your planning, not sure what David is saying. It's not entertainment. when it comes to teaching, we answer the questions folks are asking.

John Mury

commented on Nov 8, 2012

David's irony covers over the fact that too many preachers teach congregations as if they are simply receptacles for information. Call it "entertainment" if you will but I call it engaging the whole person, including their imaginations, their contexts, their rhythms of life. Charles Finney and other evangelists were similarly criticized while they did God's work and others sat in their Sunday pews, hurling criticisms.

Brian William

commented on Nov 8, 2012

And along with #9, I try to teach invitation to my folks in a way that ties in with the series. Rather than simply, "Hey, my church is great, come join us," make the invitation specific. For example, we just finished a series called "From Hurt to Healing" about the healing miracles of Jesus, concluding with a healing service. Prior to the series, I asked congregation members to think of somebody in their life who was hurting and invite them. It was remarkable how many of my folks came up to me after the services of this series and said, "Lemme introduce my co-worker so-and-so. She's just gone through a messy divorce and is really hurting." I went to the AA group we host and invited them, again, saying, "Are you hurting? This Sunday we'll be experiencing God's healing." When sermon series have a *specific* invite associated with them, it makes it much more like for church members to make the invitation and for recipients to respond to the invitation.

Anonymous

commented on Nov 8, 2012

Sermon Central...you might want to check to see who actually wrote this before you post it and show a picture of Herbert Cooper. Tony Morgan originally wrote this. Awkward...

Bill Williams

commented on Nov 8, 2012

@David, I agree with Al and John. You might want to elaborate a bit more on what you're trying to communicate, because apparently you're seeing something in this article that is not quite as obvious as it is to some of us!

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