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Rick Warren
How much balance is in your sermons? (Rick Warren)

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Hopefully by now, you’re already thinking through your preaching calendar for next year. Part of shepherding a congregation toward long-term health is offering a balanced diet from the pulpit. Your preaching over a 12-month period should be pre-planned with certain factors built in.

Before a new year begins, I try to identify eight to 12 series that I’m going to do for the year. Balance is what I’m looking for most. There is no way I’m going to be able to use all of the themes that I come up with, but I want to be balanced. And I want to look at several factors as I seek that balance.

First, I want to be balanced in content. That means I need to do a doctrinal series, a relational series and an ethical series. I want to strike a balance between Old Testament and New Testament. And I want to preach to people at various stages of spiritual growth.

Second, I want to have balance in terms of style. I may do a character series, such as a series on Moses, Joseph or Joshua from Hebrews 11. I may also do a series on the life of Christ or events from His life, such as His miracles or His parables. I might also teach through a book of the Bible, like James, Philippians, Peter, Proverbs or Ecclesiastes.

Third, I like to have balance in tone. This is very important. First Corinthians 14:3 speaks of having a balance between building up, firing up and holding up. It’s out of balance to spend your whole year preaching in any one of these tones exclusively. All comfort and no challenge produces a soft congregation. And all challenge and no comfort produces a worn-out congregation. I’ve found it helpful to identify the emotional stance of each message before sharing it. It has more impact when you know what feeling you’re going to produce.

And fourth, I want to balance the five purposes of the church. Always remember that there is a corporate aspect in preaching. As we preach to move individual people along spiritually, we are also moving the church along. So I always try to preach a series that relates to evangelism, another to fellowship and relationships, another to worship or prayer, another to discipleship or being more Christlike, and another to serving and ministry.

Look at some of the series we’ve done at Saddleback in the last three years, and you’ll see that these factors are intentionally balanced:



2013 (so far)

Also remember not to worry about preaching a rerun. You can never preach the same message twice because you’re different and your hearers are different. Fifteen percent of Americans move every year, so you’re preaching to a parade. And any message worth preaching once is worth revising and preaching again.

Proverbs 21:5 says it best: “Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind” (MSG).

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

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