Wesley sermon series help

I’ve been putting some thought into some ideas Kevin Watson put forward recently in a blog post about empowering and equipping laity.

In it, he suggested an outline for developing a Wesleyan class meeting system in contemporary churches.

The first step Watson suggests is a 6-12 week sermon series designed to cover the basics of Wesleyan theology and the Methodist method of making disciples. I’ve been playing around some with ideas about what such a sermon series might look like.

My first thought was to go with the shorter 6 weeks end of that range – in part because I’m not very skilled with the sermon series. As an arbitrary starting point, I was thinking of 1 introductory sermon (I’m not quite sure how that works), 3 or 4 on Wesleyan theology and 1 or 2 on the method.

For a short introduction to the key aspects of Wesleyan theology, I was thinking of borrowing Gregory Clapper’s approach in As If the Heart Mattered, which uses the house of faith as a metaphor: the porch of repentance, the door of justification, and living in the house of faith (sanctification or holiness). The last topic could easily be split into two topics, I think, personal and social holiness.

This would then leave a sermon to introduce the class meeting as a key part of the method of Methodism. Perhaps there should be another one in there about the general rules.

I’ve not developed many topical sermons or been very happy with the sermon series I’ve preached, so I’m not sure if this initial sketch has the bones of a good series.

I’d welcome any thoughts or pointers from the more experienced.

2 thoughts on “Wesley sermon series help

  1. John,
    I suggest an alternative to a series of topical sermons. Such series have extremely limited impact. They also tend to bend worship towards the personal needs of the congregation and away from praise, thanksgiving and response to God.

    My alternative to the sermon series assumes that your preaching and worship planning are shaped by the Revised Common Lectionary. Rather than a series of topical sermons, weave into your sermon preparation the elements of Wesleyan theology that naturally emerge from the texts. Conclude each sermon with practical application drawn from the General Rules and the class meeting. Your preaching throughout the year will then be salted with Wesleyan theology and spirituality.

    One more important element you did not mention, and I’m not sure what Kevin has to say about it, is the centrality of the Lord’s Supper to worship and discipleship in the Wesleyan tradition. One important step to take would be to move your congregation towards weekly celebration of the sacrament.

    You may also want to consider participating in the Wesleyan Leadership Conference I’ll be hosting in Nashville October 14-16 (http://www.gbod.org/wesleyanleadership).

    Blessings,

    Steve Manskar

    1. Thank you, Steve, for the thoughtful suggestions.

      I’d love to attend the Wesleyan Leadership Conference, but I do not think I will be able to this year.

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