Planning a new sermon series

Our summer sermon series, “Sunday School Heroes,” is coming to a close this Sunday with Joshua and the battle of Jericho. My friend John Alan Turner—author, theologian, pastor—will be preaching, as my vacation comes to a close. I’m currently planning my next series. “Planning,” of course, means that I now feel sufficiently guilty for not having already planned it out and am scrambling to figure it out.

Here’s what I know so far: The series will be called “Kickoff.” It will begin, appropriately enough, on our church’s “Kickoff Sunday,” August 12, and will feature biblical texts related to starting over, renewing our faith, beginning again, second chances. My hope is that it will enable all of us to re-commit ourselves to being faithful to the Lord.

On a related note, I read with interest this blog post on contemporary preaching by Scot McKnight. He contrasts two styles of preaching: biblical raiding versus biblical reading. Biblical raiding means starting out with what you want to say, and then finding scriptures to support it. Biblical reading means starting with the Bible and then “applying it” to our everyday lives. If you pay attention to my sermons, you know the style I prefer.

Both have problems, but “Bible reading” seems more faithful to, well… the Bible. The danger of my style, however, as McKnight notes, is that sermons can be unfocused and can become “intellectual exercises in informing people about an ancient text.”

But the “Bible reading” style makes sermon series planning a little easier: I don’t have to plan everything out. After all, I won’t really know what I want to say until I’ve struggled with the text each week and put it down on paper.

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