Here is the one question in the Sermon Series Development Worksheet from my book Sermon Series Preaching that keeps me grounded:
“How will this series affect the spiritual health of the church?”
At the end of the day, every sermon series and every sermon will affect the spiritual health of the church. Their development is more important than my personal desire to preach about subjects that I like.
You see, sometimes as I meditate on bible passages, I come up with sermon series ideas that appeal to me. I may even hear sermons by other ministers that inspire me. But those ideas and sermon topics may not be what our church needs at that time. This question reminds me to be deliberate and purposeful in seeking the Lord’s guidance for each series.
Additionally, this question helps me feel comfortable about preaching topics that aren’t very popular with the congregation. I’m sure it would be nice to have people shout every Sunday. It would be great if they always left church feeling good. But that isn’t always the case if you’re preaching for the health of the congregation. Let me explain.
My wife can bake. Her cakes are more than a dessert; they’re an experience. I could honestly eat a slice of her Red Velvet Cheesecake or Italian Creme cake after every meal but that’s just not healthy. I appreciate her baking and need some dessert every once in a while, but I need her salads, cooked vegetables and seasoned lean meats if I’m going to be healthy and keep my weight down. It may not always be good to me but it’s good for me. My wife wants me to be happy but she needs me to be healthy even more. So I don’t get cake with every meal.
Our churches are the same. They may want us to serve up dessert every Sunday in the form of exciting topics and rousing preaching, but those things don’t always lead to increased spiritual health. I’m convinced that God never intended for us to only preach the popular passages in his word. We can’t just preach about blessings, miracles, healing, prosperity, and encouragement. We must also preach about sin, service, evangelism, sacrifice, and forgiveness.
So before you plan your next sermon series, be sure to ask yourself “How will this series affect the spiritual health of the church?” Then listen for God’s guidance and have the courage to follow his leading. Remember the message may not be good them, but it will be good for them.