Case Study: How to Start a Sermon Series Well

Case Study: How to Start a Sermon Series Well

So you’re about to start a sermon series, but how should you approach the first few minutes of the first sermon in that new sermon series?

Is there one way that you should start a new sermon series every time?

Are there many different ways you can start a sermon series?

What’s the best way?

If you preach regularly and if you preach through sermon series, then you’ll run into this quite a bit throughout a year.

So to help you navigate and decide how to start your next sermon series well, I did a case study where I looked at a number of different churches to see if there were some trends.

Here’s what I discovered: there are many different ways you can start a sermon series well. One size does not fit all. But every sermon series has a unique attitude and approach that you’re going to want to consider when deciding how to start your next sermon series.

Case Study: How to Start a Sermon Series Well

As I observed many different pastors start their sermon series, here’s what I saw.

Introduce and explain the series.

Kyle Idleman introduced Redeem the Screen by talking about what he hopes the church will see over the course of the next few weeks in the series. After this, he told a story about a conversation he had with his daughter about how life used to be before cell phones.

Matt Chandler introduced The Greater Story by talking about how long it has been in the making and setting up how it is a kind of pivot point in the life of their church.

Kenny White introduced DNA by talking about the outline of the three-part series and then followed that up with a personal story.

Mike Edmisten introduced Don’t @ Me by talking about what the phrase “don’t @ me” means and how they will be talking about some bold truths of God.

Start with a question that sets up the point of the entire sermon series.

Andy Stanley asked, “Have you ever been your own worst enemy?” to kick off How to Not Be Your Own Worst Enemy. Then he proceeded to tell a story about his own experience with being your own worst enemy and followed it up with pulling at the tension strings that the series addresses.

Derwin Gray kicked off Action by asking, “Have you ever been so convinced of something that you said, ‘I’ll never do that!'” Then he told a story about him experiencing that and followed it up with pointing to James, the half-brother of Jesus, and how James would have probably been convinced that he never have would have become the primary leader of the Jerusalem church.

Tell a story that sets up the hook of the series.

Craig Groeschel told a story kicking off Warrior. It was engaging and hilarious. He took a point from the story and asked the church if anyone is a warrior then articulated what he means by a warrior.

Start with an analogy.

Miles McPherson introduced Courtrooms of Heaven by beginning with an analogy of work out plans he has used in the past and said that the ones that worked were the ones he actually did. In the same way, this series on prayer and what happens in the heavenly realm will change your life if you listen, pay attention, and do what you are called to.

Introduce the series and acknowledge the objections.

Chuck Mingo introduced How to Hear From God by introducing the title and acknowledging that it might sound weird but assured the church that throughout the series, they would be looking at how they all can really hear from God. He assured them that “you can do this.”

When I introduced Thrive, I began with the premise of the series (God wants us to thrive in all the relationships of our lives) and immediately began to address the objections people likely have because much of our relational experiences say that we often feel like we’re in survival mode rather than thriving in our relationships.

So How Should You Start Your Next Sermon Series?

That’s a good question. As you can see, there are many different ways you can go about it.

But here’s the common thread that you can see throughout this brief case study: everyone acknowledged that they were entering a new sermon series in the first week of the series. They, in some way, talked about the purpose of the series. And even in series that walk through a book of the Bible, a practical angle is identified and explained.

If you have outlined your sermon series well and you know the purpose of the series then you’ll be able to figure out how to start it well. But be encouraged in this: you’ve got a lot of options.

Want to improve your preaching even more? Check out our book, Preaching Sticky Sermons.

What’s your favorite way to start a sermon series?

Leave a comment below, send us a tweet, or join the conversation in our Facebook group for pastors.

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Written by Brandon Kelley

Brandon Kelley is the co-founder of Rookie Preacher and the author of Preaching Sticky Sermons and Crucified to Life. He serves as the Lead Pastor of First Church of Christ in Bluffton, IN. He also writes at BrandonKelley.org. You can follow him @BrandonKelley_. Watch his sermons here.

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