By Jeff Cockrell

The story is told about a young preacher called to his first pastorate.  The first Sunday he delivered a great message.  Everyone praised their new pastor for such a wonderful message.

To their dismay, the next Sunday he preached the same message. Of course the church people became concerned and  perplexed. When he preached the same message the third Sunday, the deacons decided to have a talk with their new pastor.

The deacons explained that they enjoyed him being their pastor, and that they understood he had some learning to do. The deacons asked, “But preacher, don’t you have more than just one sermon?”  He responded, “Oh, yes! But you haven’t done anything about the first one yet.” 

Gives Balance

As a pastor I find it beneficial to emphasize certain subjects in preaching for a few weeks. As I change my focus after each series, I give my congregation the whole Word of God.

My personal aim is to say with the apostle Paul, “l have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Series preaching helps me accomplish this task.

Series preaching gives your people a balanced spiritual diet. Too, the congregation knows where you are going week-by-week. Excitement can build as people look forward to upcoming messages in the series.

This excitement will cause members to invite others to hear messages.

I once preached a series on the book of Philippians. Folks seemed eager to hear how to have joy in spite of trouble, in spite of people, in spite of worry and in spite of things.

Special Preparation

I recently preached a series on angels.  My purpose was to present the biblical view of angels in light of current beliefs and encourage my congregation regarding God’s care as He uses angels to minister to Christians.

Two months before the start of the series, I read five books on angels and sections on angelology and demonology in systematic theologies.  As I collected information, I came up with a general outline and sketched out eight messages.

Each week as I prepared to preach the selected message in the series, I focused my attention on the passage or message for that particular week.  At the start of the series, I had my course charted and knew where I was going.

This is the aspect that makes series preaching easier than searching for a new sermon each week.  Someone reported that one hour spent planning saves three hours of work.  Series preaching has caused me to believe this statement.

If I preach a book of the Bible, at least four weeks before the series starts, I read the book several times.  I seek to understand the book’s context and general theme.

The question I want to answer is: “What is the message of the book and how does it apply to my congregation?”  I then work on a rough outline for the book and begin collecting information from articles, books and journals.

I am currently preaching a series on the book of James on Sunday evenings titled “Marks of Spiritual Maturity.” In a day of easy believism, my purpose is to show an illustration of a mature Christian. 

Consult The Calendar

Use the calendar. January is a good time to preach on spiritual revival or the vision of the church.  February is a great time to preach a short series directed to young people on the biblical meaning of love. Consider how effective a series on the family would be between the weeks of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day when people are thinking about family.

Because many people are away on vacation during summer months, it is a good time to preach some of the psalms of praise. Select six or eight psalms and there’s your summer preaching program.

As you look at each psalm, discuss the individual situation in which the writer praises God. If people miss a week or two, they do not miss a major point in the series like they would if you preached on “Steps to Revival.”

When people start thinking about the beginning of the new school year, preach on studying the Word of God.

Use Church Events

Use the events of the church to develop series of messages. If your church is in a building program, preach from the book of Nehemiah and focus on Nehemiah’s vision to build the wall around Jerusalem and his commitment to the task.

If your church is preparing to elect officers for the new year, plug in a series on the biblical qualifications of leaders. And of course, every preacher longs to preach on giving during stewardship month.

The pastor can preach messages on the present needs of the church. Preach a series of messages on hope and encouragement. Churches experiencing a divisive spirit need God’s Word concerning the unity of God’s people.

Holy Spirit Guidance

Above all, series preaching must be done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The task of preaching is not a business or just a job, it is a high calling. The task of preaching God’s Word carries a great responsibility as well as a great privilege (see James 3:1).

Preaching must not be done without the preparation of prayer. Time spent in prayer allows the Lord to direct you as you prepare to preach each series. There have been occasions in my ministry when I paused in a series to preach a particular message the Lord laid on my heart.

Series preaching is exciting preaching. It allows you the opportunity to unfold the deeper mysteries of God and reveal how God’s Word can cause change in people’s lives.

After his return from church one Sunday a small boy said, “You know what, Mommy? I’m going to be a minister when I grow up.”

“That’s fine,” said his mother. “But what made you decide to be a preacher?”

“Well,” said the boy pensively, “I’ll have to go to church on Sunday anyway, and I think it would be more fun to stand up and yell than to sit and listen.”

May pastors hunger to unfold the excitement contained in the pages of God’s Word, and may churches appreciate their pastors for their work in feeding them the manna from God.

Article adapted from Contact magazine, August 1996.