“Our weekend messages, which are presented in series, are put together in a collaborative process, on an ongoing basis. We have a team, we call it the “message oval” (me, my associate Tom, and Chris, our Youth Minister). We talk about possible series and topics all the time, everyday, and from time to time read or listen to series from other churches. Much of what we are reading throughout the year is chosen with an eye for possible series.
Then, once a year, usually around this time, we go away for a day and try and figure out the scope of the whole year ahead (measured from Labor Day to Memorial Day). We go into that meeting with probably many potential ideas and we come out of it with our specific choices. So it’s an important meeting, because it determines the work of the year ahead.
After that meeting, we present to the entire staff and seek their input, because the weekend message is the engine for all our efforts. It will affect what happens in kids and student programs, it will impact ministry and mission sign ups, small group curriculum, stewardship efforts, everything. So we need buy-in from everyone on staff moving forward. Everybody has to be invested and excited for series slate
Next Tom takes over and looks for resources and material he can use, to help shape the ideas of the series. When they have matured (and sometimes that happens quickly, sometimes it takes time), he fashions a series overview, week by week) which we then discuss in Message Oval.
After we are all of one mind at that point, Tom will sit down to write, usually six to eight weeks out. He likes to give himself that kind of margin, for the inevitable dry spells. Tom’s own style is to write quickly and at length. After he has completed a draft of the first week of a series, he moves on to the next, until the entire series is complete. During this period of time Lucas, our creative director, is designing a “look” for the series, that will have many applications, including the basic splash advertising the series on the web site.
Tom delivers me a complete draft, 2-3000 words, which I will read through once and then put aside and begin studying the Scripture we are using in a particular message. When I feel completely comfortable with the Scripture, I return to the text. I begin digging into the draft text from wherever the Scripture is used. For me that is the heart of the message and I start there. Next I work on the application part: What does Scripture say, and what is it we should do?”
After that, I “make it my own,” I put it into my own words, I add the stories and humor that is part of my speaking style. Finally, and sometimes only on Friday or Saturday morning I give it life by speaking it out, in other words, I practice it.
Anyway, faithful blog readers, as I like to promise, you will always be the first to receive parish news. Here is a quick look at our upcoming series.
September – October: “Breathing Room” This is a series, that reflects a topic we treated a few years ago, all about creating margin and boundaries in your life, for more fruitful and successful daily living.
October – November: “Response. Ability” A play on words, suggesting the responsibility that goes with, and the ability and gifts that flow from living the way God teaches us to live.
December: “Christmas is Coming” Our Advent/Christmas series is usually my favorite, because this is my favorite time of year (I’m also thinking of calling this series “The Goose is Getting Fat”)
January: “No Worries” a series all about, you guessed it, worry.
February – March: “Tough Love” our Lenten series all about the challenges of Christian discipleship.
March- April: “Vision/Has an Appointed Time” This will be our Easter series when we will also be conducting our capital campaign.
April-May: “Getting to Know God” This series will explore the personality of Jesus.
May – June: “Go!” We end the year with a mission series.