While it takes extra work, the pastor, worship team and small-group leaders can prepare the congregation for weekly worship and then help them apply what they have learned all week.
1. Break the preaching schedule into sermon “themes.”
Whether you use the lectionary or create a sermon series to structure your message, you need to group topics into a theme. Like the title of a book helps provide a coherent thread through multiple chapters, themes help parishioners connect a series of sermons into a coherent thought. Creating a common sermon theme for a block of four to six sermons will enable you to design elements to increase momentum around and engagement with a topic.
2. Introduce the sermon theme.
Use a short introduction video, skit or other creative message to introduce the topic. Frame key questions for the congregation to consider during this block of sermons. This helps introduce the topic and allows the church body to start to consider the matters of faith that will be raised over the period of the theme.
3. Record and post your sermons.
Record and post the sermon where the congregation can access it. This could be as simple as recording the sermon using a digital recorder connected to a soundboard or using a video camera to record it for YouTube or burning it to a DVD. Post your pastor’s slides and sermon notes if they are available. This allows people to catch up if they miss a particular Sunday during the series.
4. Kick off the week with a blog post.
Invite your pastor to write a short reflection of the previous week’s sermon and provide a few simple ways to “live into the sermon” during the week. Share the blog post link via all of your social media accounts such as Tumblr, Facebook Groups, Twitter and Google+ to maximize distribution of your post. Ask members of your congregation if they would like to “opt-in” to receive these updates via email.
5. Create a devotional for individuals and small groups to study during the week.
Suggest the pastor work with lay servants and teachers in your church to create a weekly or daily devotional related to the sermon series. Post discussion questions from the study into a Facebook group for your church or for individual small groups. Invite parishioners to respond to the questions and invite others to join.
6. Post key sermon quotes or questions on Twitter.
Review the sermon materials and the devotions and create posts for social media. Schedule a tweet to post four times (once every eight hours). The average lifespan of a tweet is 18 minutes, so this will help ensure people see it without wondering if it is social media spam. Create a hashtag for the sermon series so it is easy to search.
7. Create a challenge for the duration of the sermon series.
Ask people to act and then share their thoughts and experiences. If the sermon is about “seeing all as God’s children,” have individuals post pictures on Pinterest that reflect “who is their neighbor?” Creating a call to action through a challenge reinforces the message and brings the sermon to life for you and the people in your congregation.
While these efforts require excellent sermon planning and preparation to coordinate the different communication touch points for the congregation, they can pay dramatic dividends in your church’s spiritual development.