How Do You Choose Your Sermon/Small Group Series?
Throughout the school year middle and high school students meet weekly across the campuses for teaching and small group community. I use the words sermon series and small group series interchangeably because of the format of our weekly gatherings. During those weekly gatherings we have both a large group time, where the sermon takes place, and a small group time in which complementary leader guides are provided to our Small Group Leaders so that they can lead the discussion in their group accordingly.
Across our campuses, we have varying ministry structures which are dependent upon the context of the campus, however, regardless of structure, we all are aligned in what we are teaching. One of the biggest keys in allowing us to have alignment like this is that we start having conversations and praying over what we will teach the following school year in November of this year. Before our monthly student ministry staff meeting this past November, the team was emailed to let them know that the discussion of the 2018-2019 small group series would be on the table.
That email also includes our Woodside Students Scope and Sequence. This document has an overview of every series that we've taught and when we've taught it over the last seven years for both middle and high school. This allows us to have a handle on what students are hearing and learning throughout their time in our ministry whether it be for a few years or the entirety of their middle/high school career.
This document also provides accountability in making sure that students are hearing and learning from the Bible on specific, key topics throughout the different phases they'll experience as a student.
As we sit down to discuss what should be preached from stage and discussed in small groups the following year, we take into consideration the Scope and Sequence, as well as, specific cultural tensions and trials that students are currently facing.
We start by sharing our thoughts regarding middle school series then move on to the high school series. Again, as mentioned in a prior blog post, the majority of our student ministry staff, both part-time and full-time, are present at this meeting, which means we all have a voice in on the decision-making process. If for some reason a staff member is not able to be present at the meeting then they are asked to send their input so that they can still contribute to the conversation.
One of the aspects of the conversation is not only what we should teach but when we should teach. There are key rhythms in a year in which certain series would fit better than others. I mean obviously, we could preach our Christmas series in April but it may not resonate as much.
After the meeting, we continue to process and pray over the proposed series, having individual conversations with the team and at times with students, small group leaders, other leadership within the church.... After those conversations, we begin writing up an overview of the series and placing them on their respective middle and high school calendars.
The final proposal for the series is then shared with the team in January (we don't have a meeting in December but we do have a dope Christmas outing which includes laser tag and delicious BBQ). The team will send in any final thoughts, questions and insights and from there any, adjustments, if need be, will be made.
It is at that point that we move on to our next steps of creating and writing and....what those steps look like will be in a future blog post.
This process has been just that, a process. One which has looked different and been fine-tuned throughout the years as the dynamics of our team have changed and grown. I'm grateful to be where we are and excited to see how God continues to grow us as we look to faithfully lead His people and preach His word.