Authenticity. I need to get inside this Biblical book and let it read me, repeatedly. I need to know every paragraph, every turn of phrase, and be able to pick it up at any point and know where I am. Wear that part of your Bible out.
Relevance. I want this part of God’s Word to burn into me so I know what he is saying to his people, and why I have to preach it. I see how it connects with a range of individuals in church, with this church as a whole, and with the wider plan of God. Then I know how I’m praying as I prepare.
Resources. I need some time to get hold of the best commentaries. I start with some commentary surveys, check out the reviews of some from reliable series, and ask around. And once I’ve got the two or three new friends (or dusted off the of ones). I get inside them. I read the commentaries through and mark them up ahead of the series.
Consistency. If you’re the only preacher in the series this is easy, but if it’s shared you’ll want to make sure the team is all on the same page theologically, and aware of how key issues will be handled. Prepare a briefing paper to show how and why the series works.
Balance. Not every sermon has to do everything. So if you’ve a series on Joshua planned, work out which will be the one with the map and the timeline, which will do the heavy lifting on biblical theology, which will tackle the ethical issues of the slaughter of the Canaanites – and so on
Quality. Set up a Manila file for each sermon (OK, an Evernote notebook if you can), and chuck anything in there that’s relevant over the next few months. News stories, quotes, a movie clip, someone you want to interview, a song you sang at a conference where verse 3 really hit you – whatever.
Depth. As you come up with a difficult issue spend some unpressed time researching it ahead of time. What is the right answer about the slaughter of the Caanonites? And be ready to pass on some resources to the keen listeners who want to know more.
Focus. Planning to integrate the home groups, discipleship, prayer meetings? Planning a three month campaign. The sermons are the spine, so build out from that.
Design. Give your creatives the space to plan the artwork – perhaps the design of a consistent set of templates for the Powerpoints for the series, or a banner, or leaflets. And allow the people who plan the services the time to assemble songs, prayers, readings, responses – whatever you put in there.
And then, as you crack open your Bible on Monday morning, you’ve some idea where your heading.
Finishing. You poured a lot of time and heart into that series, and people no doubt said how helpful they’d found it – so why not publish it? I don’t mean the full on, old style publishing – but write an e-book to give away on your blog. Self publish with lulu.com to produce just enough to have available at your church.
Then, do it again!