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I just finished reading the Radical Wesley by Howard Snyder. This book is an overview of John Wesley’s ministry and methods. Snyder also offers how we can apply some of Wesley to church today.

My key takeaway was this: According to Snyder, Wesley’s secret sauce in ministry was discipline and accountability for his followers. It seems Wesley focused on holding the early Methodists accountable through threat of expulsion from the small group. He was able to balance the grace of Jesus with the high standards of his small groups without becoming legalistic.

I think this quote by Snyder summarizes the book:

Commitment to Christ, no matter how sincere, has a way of evaporating with time if not tied to and reinforced by specific commitments and disciplines which undergird the corporate experience of the Christian community. (p.161)

I do not think this high accountability is around in large supply today…maybe it should be.


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!


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


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


  • Unwrapping God at Christmas
  • Waiting on Christmas


  • 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.