Well, preachers, we’ve made it through the high holy days. Our people expect certain things from us as we preach them through Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter. But summer is on the horizon, and for many, that means a chance to spread our preaching wings just a bit. We can move off Lectionary and out of the seasonal holiday rotation to explore some more adventurous scriptural themes. (I know, I know. It’s all a grand adventure.)
So, as a public service to you and your worship planning team, here are a few suggestions for summer sermon series possibilities:
Talking Animals in the Bible
This might be a fairly short series. But how much fun would it be to say “Balaam’s Ass” repeatedly on a Sunday morning? Or push some of that “original sin” guilt off of Eve and back onto the talking snake? You could throw in the Holy Spirit in dove form with the voice from heaven at Jesus’ baptism. And maybe the birds Noah sends out–because they clearly used some sort of non-verbal communication. For your rousing conclusion to the series, preach about the bears that maul the youth who call Elisha a “baldy head.” Even if they didn’t talk, those bears were definitely making a statement.
Too often we do sermon series that cover entire books of the Bible at a time, leaving us with difficult decisions about which passages to address and which to leave out. But what if we did a whole series on just one chapter? Romans 2 is merely an example, of course. (Inspired by a class I took on the book of Romans in seminary where we barely made it through the first half of the book in an entire semester. And also by my deep aversion to ever having to preach on Romans 1.) You could choose any chapter from any book. Something from Leviticus might be nice.
If you did a 12-week series on Romans 2, you would only have to look 2-3 verses a week. Think about all of the Greek grammar you could explain! Imagine the details you could share about Roman life in the first century! And Paul’s biography! And epistolary structure! Not to mention the opportunity this presents to delve very deeply into key theological concepts like law and grace, faith and works. And circumcision. You can never preach enough about circumcision.
Pastor’s Greatest Hits
Seriously. As insightful and engaging as our sermons are, people don’t remember what we preached five years ago. Probably not even five weeks ago. So just give yourself a break over the summer and pull out some blasts from the past. The first congregant to notice you’re recycling sermons wins a chance to preach their very own sermon in the fall!
For the Love of God, Stop Driving Me Crazy, People!
Of course, you wouldn’t actually give the sermon series this title. Maybe you’d call it “Wisdom from Scripture” or “Insight for our Times.” But the idea is that you make a list of all of the things people in the church do that drive you crazy. Then come up with Bible passages that address these annoying behaviors.
- For people who are always late for meetings? “There is a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3)
- For those who think they know it all? “Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1)
- For the ones (bless their hearts) who make every issue more complicated than it needs to be and send multiple, way-too-long, emails? “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5)
And be sure to state the obvious and lay it on thick. Most people really aren’t good at taking subtle hints.
So have some fun this summer! Preach what you want to preach! (And keep your resume up to date.)
Rev. Joanna Harader preaches (among other things) at Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence, Kansas. She is pretty excited about her own summer worship series, which will allow her to preach on lust and chastity! You can find more of her writing on her blog: Spacious Faith.
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