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Preaching Articles

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 in 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.

Talk about it...

Joseph Lorenz

commented on Feb 1, 2014

If we agree that the Holy Spirit is the driving force of our messages, then how can we plan six-eight weeks in advance. Are we to become program oriented in place of message oriented.

James Zimmerman

commented on Feb 1, 2014

Surely the Holy Spirit can lead us in our preparation well in advance.

Maydene G

commented on Feb 1, 2014

I believe God is a master pre-planner and he allows us to function the same. His omniscient spirit indwells us and is therefore able to prepare us long in advance for His purposes. As someone said in response - God's plan for our redemption was so long prepared before its eventual execution!

Bill Williams

commented on Feb 2, 2014

I agree with James and Maydene. It is precisely BECAUSE the Holy Spirit is the driving force of our messages that we can plan six to eight weeks in advance. The Holy Spirit KNOWS what message is going to be needed six to eight weeks from now, even if I don't. I preach about four times a year at our church, so I typically begin working on my next sermon about six weeks before I preach it. And I can't tell you how many times something has happened the week before I preached, and a few times even a day or two before I preached, that the sermon the Holy Spirit had lead me to prepare weeks in advance spoke directly to that situation. In fact, I would go as far as to say it probably happens more often than not!

Daniel Stallbaum

commented on Feb 1, 2014

God planned pretty well in advance when He sent Jesus.

Kenneth Mandley

commented on Feb 1, 2014

Nearly all my preaching is series based. I think I have to pay even more attention to the Holy Spirit to plan the series than if it were Sunday by Sunday. I have also, on rare occasion, left the series for a Sunday because I sensed that God had a different plan for a particular day.

Tim Johnson

commented on Feb 1, 2014

Very Useful, Very Helpful Information.

Adebayo Kehinde

commented on Feb 2, 2014

God had in mind to make human race to overcome satan right from the book of genesis. But this does not manifest until we het to new testament. We are made in God's image, hence, we can similarlly predetermine in same cases and God will grant ir. At least a good servant of God is an oracle of God. Elijan is one, you and I can be one as well.

Charles Ingwe

commented on Feb 3, 2014

I kindly submit that for sure we shall always continue to learn. The process of being led by the holy spirit has for long been talked about in a way that shows Him like He just operates in the now and never in the future. But I have learnt that He operates both in the now and future. I only wish to advise that the trouble I have usually faced, which maybe the case with others as well; has been the issue of the so many sermon casts I listen to either through the print media or television during the period of my sermon preparation. At times some of these sermons sound so far reaching and effective in that day and since they too are being given by the the same Holy Spirit, if my conviction of what the Spirit is giving me for the week to come is not strongly based on faith but feelings then the temptation to sway becomes high and subsequently I begin to enjoy saturday preparation only. It is cardinal to know that the Holy Spirit preparation for weeks and months to come calls for faith that in that day when you will be giving out His word, it shall be as sharp as the word He has given you or the other servant for today. The conviction must be purely based on faith and not feelings. He can give the word in a minute for the next minute and He can as well word for weeks or months to come. It is all being led by the spirit.

Jonathan Mbuna

commented on Feb 3, 2014

I like the article but brother Joseph Lorenzo makes a very good observation. Just as the author rightly said we need to balance reach people and grow people, we may need to be sensitive and be message led and not program focussed! I have had occasions when I have prepared for sermons and then the inner voice would tell me that I should teach on a different topic and usually I have been surprized by obeying that still voice!

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