2014 Sermon Recap
For the last few years, I’ve used the blog to analyze my sermons from the last year and share my own thoughts on what we have covered as a church. A normal part of many people’s church experience is to get to the car or lunch (or Life Group) and ask, “What did you think about the sermon?” The more I’ve been around other pastors in recent years, the more I’ve realized that most preachers have something in common: we critically analyze our own work, sometimes to a fault. My closest friends know this and are comfortable asking me what people tend to ask each other after church: “What did you think about the sermon?”
This year, I am going to share my favorite and least favorite sermons and sermons series like I have done in the past. But what I also will do is explain why I liked or disliked a message or series so much. I’ve often told people that if I lived and preached in a different context than Waco, my preaching style would be dramatically different. I think this should be the case, or else context would be irrelevant. However, I do have personal preferences and a style of preaching I enjoy more than others, just like everyone else. Maybe this blog will give you insight into my own personal preferences and, if nothing else, let you know that I analyze my sermons more than anyone else.
Favorite Sermon in 2014: “God is Revealed” (from the “God Made Flesh” series)
Why? I loved the interaction with our congregation in this message, particularly after asking for more responsiveness from our church a few weeks prior to this message. It requires vulnerability as a leader to have a conversation like asking a group to change its dynamics. This message was so affirming for me as a leader to see people engage and interact like they did.
On top of that, I loved the drawing exercise at the beginning of the message. I wish I was creative enough to do something like this every single week. So, while the content maybe wasn’t my favorite from 2014, the creative/artistic elements in this sermon coupled with the response from our congregation made this a fun one for me to preach.
Least Favorite Sermon: “True Religion” (a stand alone message)
Why? I was preaching from one of my favorite books in the Bible in this message, but didn’t have enough time to develop the text due to it being Compassion Sunday. I felt like it resulted in a message that was half baked.
While interviewing Ben from Compassion was fun and provided a few “off the cuff” moments (which I really enjoy), I ultimately felt like both the sermon and the interview deserved more time. In hindsight, I think I should have focused solely on the Compassion portion and shelved the sermon section.
Favorite Series: “God in the Movies”
Why? First, let me say that there were a few series (like “The New Exodus”) that were more significant doctrinally, but I believe the reason behind this series is of the utmost importance for the American Church today. Learning to see Christ in all things is such a critical skill to develop. I feel like this series is always an opportunity to preach and teach people how to develop this skill at the same time.
On top of that, I love the challenge of finding the core message of movies (as well as other pieces of culture) and comparing it to Scripture. It always challenges what I actually believe, not just what I profess to believe. This series also sharpens my own discernment because it forces me to be conscious of what I am taking in, which is not always what we want to do when watching a movie or TV show. In fact, we mostly want to “escape” or “veg out” when consuming media, which can be detrimental to our lives. This is why a cultural series will usually be part of our annual rhythm at Harris Creek.
Least Favorite Series: “The Art of Peacemaking”
Why? I think this series was, quite possibly, the most important series I’ve done to date at Harris Creek. I also have heard of some concrete ways God used this series in the lives of our people. So, I do not regret doing this series at all; in fact, I loved the series in many ways and hope to continue to flesh out this subject in the future.
In the same breath, there are two reasons why this ended up being the most disappointing series for me personally:
- The topic of reconciliation is such a broad subject, this series felt like trying to “eat an elephant.” There was so much left unsaid that I felt like the series could have accomplished more.
- There are some relationships in my own life that need to be reconciled, yet the window for that to happen still hasn’t opened. I personally was wrestling with the weight of a few relationships that remain unreconciled while teaching on the subject.
The other thing I wanted to do with this blog is share a few “stats” from the last year. We had eight guest speakers in 2014, and 13 times when someone other than me was preaching. I believe this is a healthy number for both the congregation and for me. When it comes to what I taught over the last 12 months, here are a few stats I always like to analyze from the year:
Overall I feel like 2014 was a productive and fruitful year, teaching wise. What about you? Are there any series or sermons that stand out to you? If so, why? I would love to hear what you’ve learned or enjoyed over the last year in the comments section.