Just a few years ago, ministry leaders were talking a lot about leading with excellence. Then, after all of the events of the last couple of years (a global pandemic, racial justice issues, political chaos, etc.), leaders spoke less about excellence and more about survival.
Instead of how do we take things to the next level? we were asking how do I get through another Sunday?
The church’s history is filled with these kinds of seasons that cause us to evaluate what is most important. And while I have been glad to see so many church leaders trying to get back to the basics of church as Jesus intended it, I’m also happy to see many leaders beginning to think longer term again about what it looks like to build Jesus’ church over the long haul.
When it comes to how the church can look, it’s important to know that excellence matters, but not for the reasons you might think.
Personally, I’m less interested in excellence for the sake of a great presentation than I am in seeing excellence birthed out of real passion. I wanted to point back to an article I wrote just prior to the onset of Covid, before 2020 happened.
Sermon Ideas Based on the Lectionary
Note: The notes in the Reflectionary each week are based on Lectionary texts ten days out (so, the next Sunday, not the coming Sunday). If you need to see notes for this Sunday’s texts, visit last week’s Reflectionary.
For August 21, 2022
Year C – Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost
First Reading and Psalm
Jeremiah 1:4-10 NRSV
WORKING TITLE: The Point of Prophecy
Sometimes God calls on us to speak truth regardless of the consequences, but always with the purpose of creating the kind of change he wants to see around us. What we can do is learn some principles about how God interacted with his people through his prophet and try to broadly apply those principles in the totally different context in which we live today.
WORKING TITLE: God Has Always Been There
God has always been with you, knowing you, and preparing to be a refuge for you. Focus on the aspect of God’s care in which he is known as being a refuge and a place of safety in the middle of a hard life, a hard world, and a hard time.
Alternate First Reading and Psalm
WORKING TITLE: How to Make Your Light Shine
It’s never just about one person. When we care for everyone in the community, the whole community enjoys God’s good blessings. We all tend to take care of ourselves, by nature, but caring for others requires intentionality. For whom can you show love and concern this week?
WORKING TITLE: Why We Bless the Lord
We bless (praise, worship, give honor to) God because of the multitude of ways he has shown us his goodness in our lives and in our world. Being thankful to God is life-changing. It corrects our attitudes and brightens our hearts. The application is simple – commit to vocalizing thanks to God for his goodness.
Working Title: Worship, In Light of What Jesus Has Done
Our worship of God is a response to the goodness of God, revealed in Christ and his sacrificial act of love. In light of what you now know about God, as revealed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, how can you respond today with a proper sense of awe and reverence?
WORKING TITLE: Worshipping the God Who Heals All
We can live as skeptics and critics of what others are experiencing spiritually, or we can rejoice that God offers his healing to everyone around us.
Do you find your own rules, rituals, and traditional ideas of God limiting your ability to praise him for what he is doing in the lives of others? If so, take a moment to praise the God who loves everyone, heals anyone, and offers his grace to all.
Creative Sermon Series Ideas from MinistryPass
My favorite resource for sermon series and message ideas, complete series graphics, and video bumpers (but NOT full notes or sermon outlines) to get you started is MinistryPass! Each week, I’ll feature a series I would recommend checking out for the upcoming season of the church year. This week:
From the Description:
This six-week sermon series looks at different healings in the Gospels, revealing Christ’s power, divinity, compassion, and loving character. In these distinct episodes, we can see that Christ not only heals these individuals physically but also spiritually—a healing that Christ extends to all his followers.
A Conference for Church Communications Leaders
August 22-23, 2022 (Online)
October 18-19, 2022 (Charlotte, NC)
The Church Communicator Conference is specially designed for the accidental church communicator, the one that wears many hats and may have stumbled upon this role without a plan. Lead pastors and executive pastors will also benefit from this conference as it will introduce principles and concepts that will assist with creating a unified communication strategy that aligns with the vision and mission of the church.
Books, Links, and Resources for Pastors and Church Leaders
- ARTICLE: 5 Ways to Relax in God’s Goodness, by Rick Warren
- ARTICLE: 7 Tasks Every Leader Must Master, by Chris Mayfield
- ARTICLE: 5 Clear Indicators That You’ve Taken Your Eye Off The Leadership Ball, by Scott Cochrane
- ARTICLE: 5 Tips for Enhancing Your Church’s Online Experience, by Carl Barnhill
- ARTICLE: 4 Simple Church Website Improvements, by Mark MacDonald
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About the Cover Art: Photo by Mael Balland via Unsplash.