Sermons and Series

After listening to a couple of Andy Stanley series recently, I have been pondering a point he makes in his book, Communicating for a Change.  He says that what most people try to achieve in a single sermon should really be developed over a whole series.  This allows for each message to genuinely have a single point, rather than a collection of points (and reduced impact).  It allows for the whole series to reinforce rather than confuse.

I have to say, after listening to a couple of his series, I tend to agree.  Perhaps we bite off too much in a series.  Perhaps we try to cover whole sections of a book, or a whole book, when maybe we would do better to drive home one passage more effectively. Perhaps we are too quick to move on and assume listeners have understood the point and applied it in their lives.

I suppose this creates a difficulty if we are committed to trying to preach every bit of the Bible over some self-determined priod of time.  I suppose it also puts a burden on the preacher – if you’re going to stay in the same passage for more than one sermon, you’d better not be boring!  But ultimately I suppose it asks the key question: not are we trying to cover ground, or are we trying to entertain, but are we trying to see lives transformed?  If that is the question, perhaps more focused series is part of the solution?

4 thoughts on “Sermons and Series

  1. I think is definitely something which I’ve discovered given my preaching environment. I preach on a fortnightly basis, interspersed with various events which “break” up my series. So I often end up with short (4-6 week) sets.

    As I select my block of passages for my series, I often find that most books have unique themes/messages which they seek to advocate (surprised? not really). Nonetheless, I find myself each week, while speaking on a new passage, repeating key themes/messages over and over again.

    Personally, I will more likely move towards focusing more on those themes/messages and subsidizing them with the other issues addressed in relation to those central themes.

  2. I tend to agree with your observation. We are wrestling with two elements in contemporary society: 1) Information overload and 2) reduced attention span. Sometimes as preachers, we can be guilty of putting too much different information in one message. We would do well to learn some healthy editing before entering the pulpit. Combine that with an average adult attention span of 5 minutes & it is easy to see the necessity for concise/focused sermons.

  3. Amen to that! I’ve shifted to an approach similar to Stanley’s through the years and while some people accuse my messages of being too simple (e.g. “not enough meat”) I’ve watched the majority of my congregation engage and grow like never before!

  4. I tried listening to Andy for a while. I think he might go too far in the opposite direction (at least for my taste). He kept making his one point over and over again. It’s good to not get too complicated for your people, but don’t dumb it down for them either.

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