About a week ago, I posted some reflections on planning messages for Sunday AM. I usually do this during the months of June and July of each year. The first post is here. (I suspect that the following will only make sense if you have read the first post.)
6. Planning for a year is not a rigid process. I plan for the entire year. However, I do so realizing that I will often change what I have planned. A series may last longer than what I anticipated. Or, it may not last as long. At times I have scrapped an entire series. Either I wasn’t ready or I felt that the church wasn’t ready. Sometimes, there are various pastoral concerns that arise within a year that I did not anticipate. At other times, I might sense that I need to go in a different direction based upon what the Lord is doing in my life or the life of the church.
I am just saying that I use this as a flexible, fluid tool rather than something rigid and unbending.
7. Besides what I have mentioned in the previous post, I try to think about themes, concerns, etc. I hear from people through conversation. I will record these in a notebook. (No order to this. These are recorded randomly.) During these two months, I will fill up many pages in this notebook. I make notes of themes that seem to be emerging in conversations, comments I overhear, and concerns that are expressed in a variety of forums. For instance, I may be in a class and hear three people express concerns for their grandchildren. Or, maybe I overhear a few college students talking about eating disorders on campus. Perhaps a couple of business people are talking about the disconnection they are experiencing with their families due to the amount of travel they are doing. I jot these down. These may come from people in our church, in our community, or just some comments I overhear at the coffee place.
I don’t worry about what I am going to do with these issues. I don’t listen so that I can address these directly in messages or do a mini-series on these subjects. No, I am putting these in the "crockpot" to simmer. These are just a part of the mix.
8. In the same notebook just mentioned, I will record observations from the media. Movie advertisements, retail advertisements, news, etc. I am looking for themes that seem to be emerging.
9. Through the years, I have especially tried to pay attention to the opinions of my wife and children. Occasionally, my children have said, "Dad, you ought to preach about _________ or _________ sometime." Then they will tell me why. Their comments have been very helpful.
10. Finally, in planning, I try to remember that the success or failure of these Sunday AM messages is not entirely up to me. More than anything, I want to rely on God and trust that he will provide. I know that he will use these messages to do far more good than I will ever realize.