Better preaching has been on my mind a lot recently. So much so that I think it is the one area that all of us can continue to improve in. In Part 1 of this three part blog series, I offered 10 simple things that you can do right now to help you preach better. These are things that have helped me preach better. Continuing my three part series on preaching better, I wanted to offer three reasons that you should be preaching a sermon series instead of using the Revised Common Lectionary.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the RCL. I have used it off and on for the better part of the last 14 years! Used correctly the RCL can be an effective tool for spiritual formation in the life of the church. It sets the pattern for the church year and gives the church a clear pathway to follow throughout.
But the RCL is not the be all and end all in the local church. Used incorrectly it can become stagnate, stale, and repetitive. I have seen many churches and even myself use the RCL as a crutch and not a life giving tool. Sometimes the RCL can sap our creativity and leave us stuck in familiar patterns of worship.
So lately, I have been alternating with the RCL and sermon series. I try to take the best of both worlds. RCL in formative times of the year: Advent, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Christ the King. Sermon series in other times of the year. Here is what I have found as some of the best reasons to integrate sermon series preaching into the life of your church:
- Accessibility. Call it whatever you want. Attractional, missional, cultural, relational. I think we change the “al” every year. Whatever you want to call it people outside the church want to know that the gospel impacts their life. Is the ordinary sacred? Preaching a sermon series that is interesting for an outsider is a great way to reach people not already formed in the life of the church. As more and more people grow up outside of the church, it is going to be important that we learn how to reach people who have never heard of the RCL, the Christian year, or even Methodism. Creating a sermon series can be a great way to explore what is impacting the life of your community and speak the gospel message into this situation.
- Creativity. I said before the RCL can be a crutch. The preacher can get into a bad habit of falling into the safety net of the RCL. You may not realize this, but your congregation knows when you are phoning it in. A joyless message delivered in a monotone voice. There is no enthusiasm, no spirit, no life. A sermon series can be an opportunity to explore things deeper. Passionate about a book of the Bible? Sermon series. Passionate about mission work? Sermon series. Passionate about the issues of the day? Sermon series. Passionate about movies? Sermon series. The sermon series frees you from the barriers of the RCL. Preach on something that you are passionate about. Or better yet, get a team together and invite the congregation to offer some suggestions about what they want to hear. There is no limit to sermon series.
- Flexibility. I am currently preaching a sermon series on Prayer. Several of our church members are struggling with health issues. My sermon series using the Psalms was flexible enough to allow me to address some of those concerns in worship on Sunday morning. I set my series topics months in advance, but I leave it broad until I get a month away. Then I focus down my topics for each Sunday. I am not locked into a specific message until the week of. It makes my schedule flexible enough to create messages for where people are right now.
How about you? Do you still use the Revised Common Lectionary? The Narrative Lectionary? Or Preach Sermon Series? If so what is your main reason why?