I’m constantly being asked about the importance of sermon series and what the best way is to go about doing them. The questions are all over the map, ranging from pastors in their first year to seasoned veterans who realize we are no longer in the 1950s. So I thought I would share a few quick thoughts on effective sermon series.
The crown jewel of an effective sermon series is the title. Yes, it’s that simple – the title is the hook. Of course there must be substance in the messages, but a poor title that does not tickle the fancy of an unchurched person is a waste of time.
The title should come out of everyday experiences or observations that anyone, religious or not, could resonate with. This means that religious titles or titles that would have meaning only to a churched person have very little impact on the general public. For example: you read that a high percentage of your target audience is watching a certain TV program or a blockbuster movie has just emerged and you ask yourself “Is there a title for a sermon series in this program?” Sermon series aren’t born in an office as much as they are during your everyday life. So pay attention to what people are reading and watching. Keep in touch with the latest raves.
Here’s an example of an excellent sermon series born out of the popular TV series Survivor. Remember that series? I can’t tell you how many churches capitalized on it with a sermon series with a title that was some derivative of “I’m a Survivor.”
Or here’s another one born out of observation. You know the selfie craze? Well here’s a sermon series based on it – “Un-Selfie: How to be Unselfish in a Self-Centered World.”
But here is my favorite: it comes from Church Unlimited (better know as Bay Area Fellowship) in Corpus Christi, TX. Everyone is aware that we all have baggage. In other words, all of us are familiar with the phrase “skeletons in the closet.” We all have them. So Bay Area is doing a sermon series called “Skeletons in the Closet.” Take a look at the mailer they sent out recently.
Take a look at the back of this mailer.
Did that get your attention? I bet it did, because we all have them; some just aren’t as obvious as others. So observe life around you and come up with a catchy title that immediately grabs attention and develop no more than four sermons to fit into the sermon series.
Once you have done that, alert your congregation to the upcoming series and invite them to invite their friends. Give them copies of the direct mail piece you are sending out and ask them to pass them on to their unchurched friends. Do this at least six times a year.
Question: What are some creative sermon series titles that you’ve heard or developed recently? Share your titles in the Comments section below.