When we plan our series out, we think in two categories: attractional or missional.
The other type of series is missional. This series is designed to have more depth, spiritual formation, discipleship. Examples would be Becoming, The Journey of Jonah, Reveal and our series in August, Elijah.
While both series overlap and hit both areas (if we do our job right) it helps us in keeping balance. Both types of series are for people who know Jesus and those who don’t. We always make sure that we present the gospel and how people can take their next step with God.
We want to make sure we are alternating and that we aren’t doing 4 attractional series in a row or 4 missional series in a row. Balance.
One of the things that I learned through this series is that whether or not you have a church background, you want spiritual depth. People come to church because they want to know what the Bible says. One of the things we do is act like a church, you drove by the sign on your way in, so you know you are there. I get so tired of pastors who seem to be embarassed of Jesus, preaching tough topics (sin, depression, pain, suffering, tragedy). One of the things that is good about preaching through books of the Bible is you can’t skip verses, you have to hit the hard stuff. But that is what people come back for, because you talk about what they are struggling with.
The other aspect that is great about preaching through books of the Bible is the story. The Bible is the story of God and how he works in and through normal people to bring about his purposes. When preaching through books of the Bible, people see themselves in that story and they want to come back next week to see what happens.
While going through Hebrews, we saw God almost double our church. It was crazy. Essentially, the first 12 chapters are about what faith is and isn’t and who Jesus and why he is greater than Moses, angels and the law. I joked with our creative team that I now know why people rarely preach through Hebrews. I found a lot of sermons online of people preaching Hebrews 1 – 4, 11 – 12. Chapters 5 – 10 is why no one preaches through Hebrews. Why? Chapters 5 – 10 are essentially one sermon, it is the same topic. It was fun (and difficult trying to make 7 messages sound different, as well as coming up with creative elements to go with them, but our creative team rocks).
There is also the difficulty of the fact that Hebrews was written to people who grew up Jewish, going to the temple, seeing the sacrifices, understanding the Day of Atonement, knowing who Moses is and why he is important. The leap from Hebrews to our world is a huge leap, an important one, but a huge leap.
Also, Hebrews was written to a church that was experiencing extreme persecution, going to jail, being killed for their faith. They wanted to go underground because of this. We want to go underground with our faith because it gets in our way. This is where Hebrews is so relevant to our world. I know that for many Hebrews is the book where the debate of whether or not you can lose your salvation often rests. As I preached through it, the verses where it talks about “falling away” it became pretty clear to me that the writer isn’t even discussing losing your salvation. He’s talking about a completely different thing.
A few more thoughts. If you are a preacher, don’t be afraid to do a series longer than 6 weeks. God can work through a longer series. Don’t shy away from preaching through hard texts or books of the Bible. While Hebrews is difficult, weighty, meaty and any other word that means hard, it is a beautiful book. There is so many needed messages in it that our churches need to hear. Chapter 11 and 12 were awesome to preach through because I had preached through chapters 1 – 10, it brought so much more life to those passages knowing what the author had already covered.
This was the longest series we have ever gone through at Revolution, but it was great. Next spring, we will spend almost 6 months going through Nehemiah, which is going to be just as great.