Big-picture series planning

I hear a lot of sermons. I’m constantly going to church websites and checking out their current series. Most churches I follow do a great job of presenting their series in a compelling way. Most of the time, the messages have really good insight.

What’s always interesting to me about pastors, though, is how excited they get about a principle in a message or series, only to never mention that principle again. For example, if they were talking about priorities, they might end a big message by saying, “The way you spend your time is a direct reflection of what you value.” Everybody felt so moved. The preacher might get a hundred compliments between the stage and his car.

Inevitably, the next week rolls around and a new series has to start. Now he’s talking about something else. He’ll probably never preach the priorities message to this church again. So, what happens to that incredibly moving principle?

In my experience, it seems like a lot of churches just kind of float their way through series after series without any real sense of purpose. They get everybody energized about one series, and make comments about “how important this is”, only to introduce another important thing the next week. I always want to ask, “what happened to that important principle you shared 4 months ago?”

Churches are doing an incredible job of creating environments and mediums to share messages, but churches aren’t necessarily doing a great job of thinking through where their messages will lead people. Week to week, services are great. Week to week, messages are being communicated excellently. But what about year to year?

We have to ask questions like… Where are people going to end up in the long run as a result of our preaching? What will we have covered when we end this year?  How can we make sure to recycle important principles regularly? In what area do we want people to grow this year?

In my opinion (which, let’s be honest… really probably doesn’t mean much) a church that fails to ask these questions will have a lot of great Sundays, but they minimize their ability to implement change in people’s lives long term.

What’s your system for reiterating what’s important? How do you map out where you’re leading people?


Followership development

They say great minds think a lot. Yesterday my dad posted about over-popularizing leadership and its negative effects. You can read that HERE. Ironically, I had this post scheduled to release next Wednesday, but for the sake of relevance, I’ve bumped it up to today.

Leadership is a popular subject. Everybody wants to be a leader. Everybody talks about “leadership development”. I can remember being in elementary school and having guest speakers come and talk to our class about “becoming a leader”.  The general message was that leaders make decisions, while followers just go along with whatever everybody else says.

The underlying basis for the challenge wasn’t really about leadership, though, the challenge was to be individuals. Leadership has been communicated as synonymous with independence and resistance to peer pressure. The more leadership is encouraged, the more people resist followership.

In our culture, admitting to be a follower is like admitting to be a loser. Pride is at stake when leadership comes up because of the negative stigma associated with following. Everybody’s desire to be a leader ultimately hurts harmony and progress.

The problem with all the leadership talk is obvious: not everyone can be a leader. In fact, not everybody even should be a leader. If everybody were a leader, nobody would be. A step further, if everybody wants to be the leader nobody will be.

If leadership is necessary (which we all know it is), then so is followership. In order for excellent leadership to take place, excellent followership must take place as well. Great followers help make great leaders by giving them opportunities to lead.

So here’s my question: In what areas can you embrace followership in order to strengthen the leadership in place? Despite the stigma, following does not entail passiveness. Following does not mean you’re giving into peer pressure. Followership is about strengthening leaders.

I think it would serve us well to learn the art of following. What are some excellent followership principles?


Living in the moment

The notions of “seizing the day” and “living in the moment” have become very popular. I’ve actually heard a few sermons about this recently. The speakers say, “Life happens in small moments. This moment will never come again! It’s possible to spend so much time looking at the past or future that you miss what God is doing now!”

I’ve already admitted I struggle with this. But I also struggle a little bit with what pastors may be communicating with messages like this. Essentially what they seem to be saying is, “Now is more important than Then.”

Here’s what I want to ask whenever they’re talking: Is it biblical to live now if you haven’t considered then?

I understand that we have to make the most of every opportunity. I get that life happens in blink-like moments. But communicating these things without explaining their connection to the future can point people in the wrong direction. It’s impossible to live with purpose without considering the future. We have to live now in light of who we want to be then, and what God plans to do then.

Am I off track here, or have you felt this tension? Obviously this isn’t what pastors mean to communicate, but have you felt the implication?