Good sermons are created when you think carefully about what you want to communicate to your audience, and what spiritual and religious questions your congregation is asking. If they want to hear about how to be better parents and you talk non-stop about the principles of the reformation,
you may miss an opportunity.
Good preaching comes from a type of preparation that starts with questions about what you want to say and what they are ready to hear. Then you can bring these two considerations into alignment to craft a message that will meet your audience where they are and lift them up. You can answer their questions and lead them into a spiritual space where they feel heard, and inspired.
August is a good time to think about your plans for fall sermons. Your first questions are: What do you want to communicate this fall? What message will promote the church’s mission? What ministry goals do you have for this congregation and how will your sermons promote them? What questions do your people have? What pastoral concerns do they bring to worship? What cultural fears or community concerns are on their minds? What do they seek from the church? Thinking about these questions in August helps to set the stage for good preaching in the months ahead.
Here are some themes for fall.
Early fall is often a time for gathering and re-connecting in churches once school is back in session and folks have returned from summer vacations. It is a logical time for new families who have moved in the summer to show up in the pews.
There are two times when people make resolutions to be in worship more often. We think of New Year’s as the prime time for resolutions. But many people come in the fall resolved to make a new commitment to worship regularly. Some churches assume that the Sunday School needs a rally day but the whole church can rally after summertime and begin a new faith journey together in the fall.
Pastors have the opportunity each fall to set a tone of welcome.
Try a sermon series on Hospitality - Welcoming strangers is a major Biblical theme. Lots of stories pivot on this question of who is welcome. Here are some texts with ideas to get you thinking about how to organize a sermon series on hospitality for the fall:
Abraham and Sarah welcome angels - Genesis 18: 1-15
Shunammite Woman 2 Kings 4:8-10
Good Samaritan - Luke 10:25-37
Ethiopian Eunuch - Acts 8:26 ff
You can read more about hospitality and how to preach about some of these passages in UnCommon Preaching p. 77-78.