With a new year on the horizon, it's time to start thinking about how you can help people engage with the story of God through your sermons. Here are some great ideas and resources!
1. The science of God: Sometimes the church is seen as being in opposition with science. As United Methodists, we take a different stance. The Social Principles clearly state, "We recognize science as a legitimate interpretation of God's natural world. We affirm the validity of the claims of science in describing the natural world" (Par. 160F). Furthermore, "Science and theology are complementary rather than mutually incompatible."
Try using fun science experiments to illustrate your next Bible lesson! Discuss scientific principles such as chemical bonds and catalysts to help explain marriage and the body of Christ? You might use the wave-particle duality to explore the Trinity or even wrestle with what implications the Big Bang Theory has on our understanding of God.
Learn more about The United Methodist Church's position on evolution and how science can help church keep its younger members.
2. Everyday heroes: For a moment in the lives of most children, their parents are superheroes. Even though parents know they are just everyday people, their children see something much more within them. That perspective is the perfect entrance into the biblical narrative. The Bible is full of everyday people whom God used in powerful ways to do heroic things. If we can see these Bible heroes for who they really were, maybe we can hear God's call on our lives to step out and be the everyday heroes in our world.
3. Do something: The Methodist church began as a brilliant movement fueled by people who were not content with letting the "professionals" handle the big actions of the faith. In fact, in frontier America, it was not uncommon for the Methodist pastor to be in town only two or three days per month. That meant that the members accomplished the everyday tasks of being the church. Recovering this part of our past is powerful. Take four or five weeks to teach about the importance of having an active faith and to guide people in beginning that work in the world.
Learn how to attract, recruit, train and keep volunteers:
- 5 ways to attract volunteers
- 5 ways to recruit volunteers
- 5 tips to motivate and maintain church volunteers
- Turning volunteers into leaders
- Three simple rules to train church leaders and volunteers
4. Winter blockbusters: Try a new spin on an old idea. Take last summer's blockbusters and show a different clip each week instead of your typical sermon illustration. You could even provide popcorn and refreshments after the service. Make sure you have the right licensing to play movies with purpose and legal permission.
5. Why do we do that? Even people who have grown up in the church get a little rusty on the reasons for and the meaning of the things we do as a church. Take a month to focus on the theological significance of each part of your worship service, making sure to help people understand the sacraments of Baptism and Communion.
Here are some resources from the General Board of Discipleship to help research this sermon series
Available Online (free):
- This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion
- By Water and the Spirit
- Voicing and Enacting the Baptismal Covenant
- How (and Why) Shall We Worship? by L. Edward Phillips with Taylor Burton-Edwards
- This Is Your Baptismal Liturgy
- The Worship Table: Smörgåsbord, Smorgasbord, or Sacrifice?
- Un Sacrifice Édifiant
- Planning Vital Weekly Worship, by Taylor Burton-Edwards
- Chuck Knows Church videos
Great Books to Buy:
- Worshiping with United Methodists (Revised Edition, 2007), by Hoyt Hickman (BOOK)
- Living into the Mystery: A United Methodist Guide for Celebrating Holy Communion (e-BOOK)
- Worship: The Gifts of God from the People of God, by Taylor Burton-Edwards (Booklet or ePub)
- United Methodists and the Sacraments by Gayle C. Felton (BOOK)
Now it's time to take your favorite idea and brainstorm topics for each week. If you do it now, you can create and print a nice informational card about your beginning-of-the-year series to people as they leave your Christmas Eve service! Learn the seven ways to help a sermon preach all week.
Can't get enough sermon ideas? Check out the sermon series section on Ministry Matters.