When leading seminars, I often ask : "In the churches you've attended, how many of you were intentionally taught how to pray?" Then I ask, "How many of you were intentionally taught about the ministry and person of the Holy Spirit?" About fifteen percent of the people raise their hands in both cases. Clearly, there is enormous need to teach about prayer and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit to the folks in our pews.
The season of Pentecost is an ideal time to focus attention on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and the mission of the church. Consider preaching about how the Holy Spirit works in individual lives (personal piety and holiness) and in the corporate church (bold mission and ministry). In each instance, underscore the importance of prayer.
Preach to Develop Your Core Group
One church consultant named four audiences with whom ministry should be provided:
- Those who attend regularly (core group)
- Uninvited first-time guests;
- Invited friends, relatives, and acquaintances;
- Neighbors surrounding the church facility.
The primary ministry goal for the first audience, the core group, is discipleship. A well-focused sermon series can do much to lead your core group into deeper discipleship and spiritual depth.
An Acts-based sermon series can help your core group embrace empowerment by the Holy Spirit. The series can also help your core group determine how it will engage the world as Christians empowered by the Holy Spirit. Last, an Acts-based sermon series provides an opportunity to connect your core group with John Wesley's teachings about personal piety, social holiness, and Christian perfection.
Sermon Series Preparation
At minimum, spend six to eight weeks on one overall topic. For greater depth and saturation, try preaching a series for a quarter (thirteen weeks).
Consider your congregation's mission statement, the context of the community where you worship, or the special spiritual needs of those who worship weekly as you make plans for worship. For example, what does your congregation already know about the doctrine of the Holy Spirit? In the initial sermons, you may wish to preview several key functions of the Holy Spirit that you will cover in the series.
Worship Planning Tips
- Select the texts that will be read or used for responsive readings in worship and identify the text(s) that you plan to use for your sermon.
- Next, decide upon a general theme for your sermon, such as the love of God, faithfulness, or hope. This theme should be written in ways that will provide sufficient information for those who assist you in worship to write bulletins, to select music, or to schedule special visiting worship artists such as liturgical dancers or drama groups. If you are the chief worship planner in your church, make notes for yourself about the hymns, visual environment, or special music to request for that Sunday.
- Finally, give your sermon a tentative title -- one definite enough to be published in the church newsletter or the local newspapers before the sermon is finished. (Excerpts from Quarterly Planning for Preaching and Worship by Safiyah Fosua)
Sample Acts Preaching Schedule
Sermon starters and helps will be provided for each of the following passages: