Yesterday, on my prayer and prep retreat I began to narrow the focus to get to the Big Idea. The Big Idea is simply the "one point I want to communicate." I think too often we communicate too many messages to our churches and the result is they are all lost and forgotten. My aim is to communicate one Big Idea that will stick. To do this, I walked through these five steps.
- I worked through the BIGIDEA_calendar_planning.
- I took the calendar from September to the end of August 2013 and filled in the Sunday dates under the "Date" column beginning with September 2.
- Then I made a note of the long weekends and special holidays and highlighted them in the form.
- Next I listed the themes of the year we talked about in 5 Questions that Shape Communication and wrote them into the "Notes" section of the form.
- Finally, I began researching topics for the series' based on the selected themes or seasons beginning with the obvious ones like a Christmas series in December, a relationship/marriage series in February, and an Easter series in April. Then I took a look at the "kick-start" months of the church like September and January and researched vision type series based on the two main focuses I talked about in Turn to Clear Vision. Then I looked at our "harvest" seasons and began to research series that would be invite friendly and will preach the gospel clearly.Here's a little taste of what's coming: I've planned a couple of relationship series planned called "I Want a New Marriage" and "How to Hug a Vampire", as well as a few vision series coming called "The Justice Summit," "The Apprentice," and "Heroes" to name just a few.
Since I preach 1 point messages, basically each 3-part series is a 3-point message. So I went to work preparing 14 messages because I have planned 14 different series throughout the year.
- I ran each series through the Grace/Truth & Faith/Wisdom filter. I seek to balance my preaching between Grace and Truth type messages following Jesus' example in John 1:14, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." I have found that too much grace preaching weakens Christians and too much truth preaching hurts or hardens them. Therefore I try to follow a truth series with a grace series. I made sure that I had planned the messages so that their was an even spread of grace and truth messages. In the same way, I filtered the messages through the faith and wisdom filter. My friend and mentor Leon Fontaine says that "faith and wisdom are the power twins." One without the other will lead to a lopsided life. Therefore, I made sure that throughout the year I had an even balance of faith messages and wisdom teaching.
- I prepared each series down into a Series Map.
To give you an idea of what a series map looks like, here is a sample series map from a series I did in April 2010 called Demystify the Gifts. Series Maps_Apr_2010
- The benefit of doing a series map is it gives your creative team an opportunity to work ahead and prepare with months advance notice. It also allows your children's ministry, youth ministry, small groups ministry, etc. plan their themes to match the preaching themes so the entire church can move forward together.
- The first series map I made was the September series and then I moved through the fall series.
- It's a lot of work but is so worth it!
- The next step will be to work through the plan with our pastoral team. Our pastoral team is joining me later today and we will meet tonight and tomorrow to go through the plan. We will pray through it, plan through it, and creatively add to it so that we can communicate the very best messages possible over the next year.
- The final step is the BIGIDEA_Service_Plan
Every week our creative team meets to plan thoroughly through the Sunday service. Our creative team meetings generally last for an hour & a half and are broken down like this:
- First half-hour - debrief last Sunday's service
- Second half-hour - finalize the plans for the upcoming Sunday.
- Third half-hour - creatively prepare for the next 2-4 weeks or the upcoming series.
I hope my last couple of posts were of benefit to you and to your church. We are communicating the most important message on the planet and it is worth our full effort and preparation!
Questions: If you have any questions or want more detail as to how we prepare our services, please ask them in the "Leave a Reply" box below.