While sitting in my home office thinking about what God has placed in my heart to share with the church, two things are a current mainstay in my sermon preparation. One is looking at the news to see how the Delta variant of the coronavirus is impacting us nationally and locally, and the other is the county website where my church is located to see how COVID is impacting the city and community.
the roller coaster of COVID
At the height of the pandemic, we transitioned to online service. We did not have Sunday School or small group study. While online service provided a means to stay in touch, the members were not together physically, which led to frustrations and challenges. Streaming online also made it difficult for some members to listen to the service as they are not connected digitally. This is important because there are some sermon series that are important for the entire body to hear as we work with God’s direction to impact kingdom building.
Sermon preparation had become stressful from week to week. I was not sure if we were going to be physically at the church or streaming on social media. Although God’s Word continues to be preached, receiving the Word is different online than in person. Hearing the inflection and passion of the sermon resonates with more energy in person than it does online for some people.
Topical sermons and other speakers were used throughout the spring and summer, while I prayed the numbers of positive COVID cases would continue to decrease. We were on an emotional roller coaster—being online, going back into the church, being back online due to COVID outbreaks, to back in church again. I can’t tell you how many masks, bottles of sanitizer, tissues, and digital thermometers we’ve gone through to get us to a new normal being together—until the next person sneezes or coughs too long.
As we understand better how to deal with and combat this pandemic, it has given tired, isolated members the confidence to come to church again. It has been so exciting to see my church family again, looking at how lives have been changed and how they are doing during this difficult time. The church service is awesome, though we have been admittedly out of practice in our singing, worshiping, and giving. However, we are together, and that has been good enough for us.
Restorative Sermon Series
With so many questions and concerns surrounding our communities, cities, and country, it is so important to begin the right series at the right time to usher in the Spirit of God to renew, restore, and refresh our lives. This is so important to help those who have become uninvolved in church fellowship, unsympathetic to decisions churches are having to make for the body, and uninterested in church mission and ministry.
No longer do I have the luxury of developing a sermon series that is interesting but not influencing. I had to learn not to preach from a negative perspective. People already know life has been a battle, the brokenness and the mindset of not feeling or being good enough or worthy. I have learned for true transformation you have to think differently. Renewing your mind to the things God means for your good is vital to your spiritual growth and maturity.
The fall sermon series will give the church a call to action, allowing their faith and work to exist in harmony. Equipping, encouraging, and empowering are essential elements of a growing church ministry. The excitement of experiencing God move in our hearts through the seasons of life is incredible; seeing how He transforms the spirit of doubt in members who are not only heard but seen. It is a motivating drive unlike any other to declare the gospel week after week to see what new and awesome things God has in store for us. This will not only make the holidays better, but it will bring to remembrance just how good God has been to the church all year.
I’m excited about what this fall will bring—the changing season, changing leaves, changing weather, and, most importantly with God, the changing of the heart.