Message planning for disciple making

 There are several different ways to plan your sermons for Sunday mornings.  We all lean towards a particular method depending on our predominant lean as a leader, our theological position, and what we’re comfortable with.  Here are some of the common systems leaders use to plan their sermon series.

Varied – can change from month to month & week to week based on the speaker, situation, or inspiration.

Topical – planning around topics based on relevancy to the community, leadership interest, etc.

Book by Book – chapter by chapter, verse by verse

Liturgical – based on a year long shared plan with a denomination

Combination – a few different methods together

It is important to be aware of your system / method.  Who is it including and excluding?  What kind of people do you attract and detract?  What are you gaining and what are you losing? Does it connect with your overall vision?

If you are an evangelist by nature you might lean towards a varied or topical series based on current events.  This approach might be strong in an “attractional church” whose focus is to see people come to faith.  The approach will have several strengths:  1) you don’t have to attend each week to feel like you are missing anything, 2) if you are struggling in faith it offers bite size pieces and ideas you can handle, 3) you aren’t concerned about last weeks topic or next weeks topic, 4) it generally attracts blue collar and emotional first people.

On the flip side, there are several weaknesses with this approach.  1)It is extremely difficult to build community and momentum around topical series because demands, pre-communication, and next steps are not built in, 2)It is hard to keep people in the +3 to +7 discipleship range for very long, 3)It creates a consumer / producer culture usually dependent on a charismatic personality.

If you are a pastor/teacher by nature you might lean towards a book by book approach.  This approach might be strong in a disciple-making focused church whose approach is to see groups and strong believers develop.  The approach will have some strengths. 1)It generally attracts a +3 to +7 disciple range crowd, intellectuals, and grows new leaders, 2)It easily creates community and next steps for believers. 3) It is not dependent on a charismatic personality but communication can be shared with a group of people.

On the flip side, there are several weaknesses with this approach.  1) It demands a higher level of commitment by those who belong to the church and can exclude outsiders, 2) Without intentionality, evangelism and attraction to the gospel can be low.  3) It’s harder for outsiders to feel at home in their first services.

I personally believe that church services have to be built on a variety of communicators, styles, and methods.  This is extremely difficult to do but requires intentionality, humility, and experimentation in order to fit the tension of connecting with different perspectives, backgrounds, and age demographics to create a community of diversity.  

Here is an example of a schedule that has a mixture of types of Sundays to correspond to cultural moments where invitation is high, to go deep in verse by verse moments, to have topic, and celebrate church wide for a year.  Here are a few things to keep in mind

  • Holidays and long weekends 
  • Cultural moments
  • Church moments
  • Rhythms of groups, school

Jan – topic drawing near to God – prayer emphasis

  • Enoch
  • Abraham
  • Hosea
  • Paul


  • Super Bowl Sunday – invitational
  • marriage – valentines
  • singlehood
  • blended families – baby dedication 


  • Lazarus – baptism 
  • Palm Sunday & Good Friday
  • Easter – outreach
  • Book of Acts Intro


  • Book of acts 1-2
  • Book of acts 3-4
  • Book of acts 5-6
  • Book of acts 7-8


  • Book of acts 9-10
  • Book of acts 11-12
  • Mother’s Day – invitational
  • Book of acts 13-14 baby dedication
  • Book of acts 15-16 baptism 


  • Mission Sunday Local
  • Volunteer Appreciation Day
  • Fathers Day – invitational
  • Flex Day


  • Canada Day – invitational
  • Topic studies – A reason for God
  • Meaning
  • Purpose

August – topical 

  • Savings
  • Investing
  • Spending 
  • Giving


  • teachers appreciation – back to school – invitational 
  • Groups Sunday
  • Minor prophets
  • Minor prophets


  • Minor prophets – thanksgiving
  • Minor prophets
  • Minor prophets – baby dedication
  • Minor prophets


  • Persecuted Church Sunday – baptism
  • Remembrance Day
  • First Responders SUNDAY – invitational
  • Mission Sunday – Foreign 


  • Christmas series – topic
  • Christmas series – topic 
  • Christmas series – invitational 
  • Christmas – invitational
  • New Years Eve 

Is there a right way or a wrong way? No. The important thing to realize no matter your approach is what the strengths and weakness of the approach is in order to reach the goals you believe God is calling you to accomplish.

Related Posts

Discipleship Systems Vs. Organizational Systems

For years, the local church has focused on developing a way to assimilate people who...

How To Recruit More Volunteers

No volunteers? I have never met a church that said we have enough staff and...

Leave a Reply