How To Determine Your Categories
Many series will fall into more than one category, depending on how you approach it.
For example, a series on worship could be theological, (focused on worshipping God for who He is), doctrinal (explaining the different approaches to worship), or practical (helping people to understand that worship is the way we live our lives, not simply an element of our Sunday liturgy).
l keep a note file of ideas for messages, using a tool that I can sync between my phone and my computer. The ideas come from my personal devotions, or inspired by what I’m reading, and even from listening to other pastors. (It is amazing that as I’m feeding my own soul, how God’s Spirit often uses a co-laborer to help me see something in a new way or to prompt a thought that deserves additional contemplation).
I collect these ideas whenever they come and file them away. Then in late October or November, I pull those ideas out along with unused ones from past years.
The next step is to look at those ideas and inspirations, and “pray them through,” asking God which ones are most relevant for the upcoming year. Once I start to narrow down the list, I begin to apply the categories as a filter.
Once the sermon list begins to shape up for the year, I then look at the calendar for practical instruction. For example, could I use tax time and April 15 to teach a series on stewardship?
In my context, we have found that the Thanksgiving season is the best time for us to talk about living life missionally in gratitude to God. I also think about other calendar related items. Is this an election year? Is there an anniversary of an event that needs to be acknowledged?
The Discipling Pastor
The most effective discipleship in a small church happens relationally.
As a small church pastor, I have to keep these two tasks in balance – preaching to the congregation, and spending time with members.
By categorizing my sermons, I’m able to do both better. Because I’ve become more intentional about discipling the congregation from the pulpit, I’m able to make more of the time I spend one-on-one.
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