It’s almost the end of the year. Churches are making their budgets for next year. People are stretching their bank accounts for Christmas. Some people are even making goals for next year. I try to make a few personal and professional goals each year. I usually lose them by February. Most of the time my goals end up being focused on things I can not really control.

As pastors we always want to grow our church and further God’s kingdom. The truth is we have very little control over the numerical growth of our churches. However, we can control a few numbers. Here is a list of number I want to focus on in the next year:

  1. The number of people I have to eat inside my house.
  2. The number of 1st time visitors I follow up with at church.
  3. The number of thank you notes I write each week.

What will you be focusing on? Please share!

 

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Occasionally I will have someone ask about my sermon series graphics. One part of the process is deciding what direction my sermon series will be. Here is a rough outline of my process.

Step 1 – Decide on how Many Weeks You Want to Be in Your Series.

The revised common lectionary is a series of scriptures that cover the majority of the bible over a three year cycle. Each week there are at least four assigned readings for Sunday.

There is always a psalm, epistle, and Gospel reading. The majority of the year there is another Old Testament reading except after Easter there the Old Testament reading is replaced by Acts.

My process is to pick a stream and stay in it for several weeks. For my upcoming series I will be in the Gospel of Matthew for three weeks. I chose three weeks because once the Old Testament readings move to Exodus I will be preaching from there for several weeks.

Step 2 – Study the text/passages prayerfully.

In this steps I read through the passages and ask God, “What do you want me to hear/say/preach?” This step is very important because we are wanting the text to set the agenda.

  • “Letting the text set the agenda” is the process of coming to the bible trying to hold back your own conclusion and allowing the bible speak to you on it’s own terms. It’s a phrase you hear a lot at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Notice any connections or themes you see emerging from the text. Make sure to make notes along the way here.

Step 3 – Pick a Generic Title

Here is my big secret. Try to pick a title that does not box you in. If our goal is to “let the text set the agenda” then we need to make sure we don’t have a title that will not fit the text. For example, my next series is called “How to Have Confidence in God”. It is based on:

I felt there was a connection to faith in all these stories. I am assuming that I can at least tie part of my application of these sermons into having a more confident faith in God.

Confidence in God

I love using series like this because it gives me a lens to tie the sermons together. It also helps our congregation see or think about a certain theme. Again the more the generic the title the better it fits. For example, I did a series a few summers ago called Modern Disciple. Now just about any passage in the bible helps inform us about how to live our lives today. Also, recently I concluded a series called Future Church. My opening illustration was something futuristic happening or possibly happening. Then we would turn to the scripture to see what type of church we were called to be in the future.

Some examples of sermon series title

Beginning of the year/Epiphany

  • Start Strong
  • Preparing for the Journey

Lent

  • Eavesdrop: Listening on Conversation with Jesus (Gospel Stream)
  • How to Have a Fruitful Life (Apply the Bible to your Life)

Advent

  • Unwrapping God at Christmas
  • Waiting on Christmas

Other

  • Future Church
  • Follow the Leader: Lessons from the Book of Acts
  • Greatest Sermon Ever: A Series of Sermons about the Sermon on the Mount

Maybe I will change my preparation up in the future but this process works well for me. I think the greatest strength is I am able to study the scripture and go in whatever direction I feel drawn to during my sermon prep.

What is your process? I would love your input. Comment below and help me refine my process!

Note: This is only the process for outlining my sermon series and not the in depth process of sermon preparation/writing.

Occasionally I will have someone ask me about my sermon series graphics. I would like to offer a description of my process. This a process I have developed from several years of being the only staff serving small rural congregations.

For my process you will need Microsoft Power Point and access to the internet.

Step 1 – Find an Image

Find an image that resonates with your sermon series. Make sure to follow any rules for using the image.

My favorite websites are:

After you have your image copy it or download the image.

Step 2 – Edit in Power Point

Next, open power point and insert the image onto a slide.

  • Note: I use power point because it is the easiest and cheapest way to do what I need. I am trained in Photoshop and Publisher but I could never ask my small churches to buy these when I could get by with just power point.

I usually delete the text boxes on the slide and draw new ones. In those text boxes I’ll type the sermon series title. Sometimes I’ll add the church name or the phrase “current sermon series”.

Extra tip #1: Find a different looking font on the dafont.com Download it to your computer. You may have to close power point after downloading the new font to have it appear inside the program. My advice would be to search youtube for “loading fonts onto [insert your computer operating system name]”.

Some of my go to fonts are

Extra tip #2: To make fonts easier to read I usually insert a shape behind the text (In power point click INSERT then SHAPE then I usually pick a rectangle to start with). Make sure to edit shape opacity and make it transparent.

Step 3 – Save Slide as .jpeg

After moving things around, playing with the fonts size and type, you are ready to be done. Go to “save as” and change from the .ppt format to the .jpeg format. I usually save it to my desktop. Then you can upload to facebook, send it go whoever works on your bulletin and use it as a cover image, or make cards to pass out for the next sermon series.

Some Examples

Here are some of my recent images. All of these series are based on the revised common lectionary.

Easter Promo 2017 a

This was an Easter announcement. The font here is New Year 2017.

eavesdrop-lent-sermon-series-2017-logo

This was a lent series of sermons. We focused on the lectionary gospel reading in year A. We noticed how each of these reading were conversations we were “eavesdropping on”. The font is substrate.

Confidence in God.jpg

This is Bohem Press.

Slide23

This is one of my favorite fonts. It is Sketch Toronto.

Preparing for the Journey

This is basic title font.