I’m a pastor’s kid. One of the things that fascinated me when I was growing up was how dad cranked up a sermon or teaching every Sunday! Sometimes he even taught two to three times a week on different subjects. As a communicator, I thought I’d give sources for content for ‘platform communicators’ in the church context. The obvious source for sermon or teaching content is God. I think this one is a given. As a preacher or teacher you must seek God on what you ought to preach. I didn’t see the need to expound on this one as it is rather obvious! ;-)
- In You: The first place to get what to preach is from yourself! What is God speaking to you at a personal level? I’ve often discovered that as I go through certain phases those I serve seem to follow too. Not all the lessons you learn are exclusively for your growth or benefit. It seems God prepares me to serve those I serve better by allowing me to experience some things first. You have a platform and influence that God uses to speak to people. Don’t undermine that by not cultivating your relationship with Him. With this comes a warning: don’t spend time with God just to get a sermon or series! At the same time, do not limit God from speaking to others through what He’s doing in your personal life.
- Needs: You’d think this one is a ‘no brainer’ but you’d be surprised how many preachers overlook this one! Great sources for your preaching or teaching content are the felt needs of those you serve. The implications are that you need to be in touch with people to know where they’re at. Build authentic relationships. Knowing your people will also be a great help in knowing how to communicate with them. Preachers, if you don’t care about people you’re in the wrong ‘business’! I have been in instances where the majority of the congregation was going through similar things. You don’t need to go ask God if you can teach a series on healing when you can see that it is the prevailing need among your congregants!
- Poll: Ask your congregation! At some points I’ve sat in the pews hoping that pastor would teach on a particular subject. He never did. I never asked him to either. I’m sure he would’ve taught on the subject if I had asked. You can use online tools like surverymonkey.com, simple response cards or your small group leaders to ask. I’m not suggesting you teach what people want to hear. I’m just saying there could be areas of growth you could be neglecting by not asking your congregation.
- Vision & Mission: One of the best places to get your teaching content is your vision and mission statements. Too many churches now only leave this for their “vision Sunday”. If you took the time to really break down your vision, mission and values statements you’ll see that there are numerous components that you can expound on forever. This is one of the best ways to get your congregation to understand and embrace the vision. You may not necessarily outright say “as part of our vision” or “this is how that fits into our vision”… You don’t have to use “vision” for it to be a sermon on something that is at the core of your purpose. Teach it in as many ways as possible and eventually your people will begin to live it!
- Around: I’m constantly on the lookout for ideas. I watch billboards, tv ads, people in the mall and yes, even online… Sometimes I look for illustrations and at other times I happen to find an illustration from which a talk develops. This works great especially with media that young people are constantly interacting with. I think plain old observation is underrated as a source. Even watch your congregation when they come into church… You could discover that the spouses don’t honor each other; run a marriage enrichment series. Or people mishandle their property; teach on stewardship. Keep your eyes open and be open for God to speak to you.