In addition to my work at Midnight Oil, I serve as Creative Director at my church, Trietsch. I periodically post descriptions of sermon series, in case any of our creative ideas provide material for your own planning.
At Trietsch, we just finished a five-week sermon series called Questions for God. For two months prior to the start of the series, we offered people the opportunity to submit their thorniest theological question: If you had the opportunity to sit down with God, what question would you ask?
We received over 200 responses, which seems like a significant percentage for a church of 1500 in worship on a good day. Many of them were focused on theodicy, or the question of suffering and pain. We had others as well, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous: (“God, why does our pastor wear jeans in worship? Is that disrespectful?”) We gathered them together and sorted them into five primary categories for sermons: Experiencing God, Faith and Facts, Heaven, God’s Plan and Our Plan, and Evil and Suffering. Other questions, many of which were posed by only one person, such as divorce, homosexuality, the role of women in leadership, and others, were answered by one of our staff pastors on our church’s blog.
I started the series on week one with this introduction:
Afterward I said this:
- Whether it’s late at night or right in the middle of our work-a-day life, sometimes we cannot help but think about the big questions.Today we’re starting a new series called Questions for God. Throughout the summer we have been receiving your handwritten and online questions – the things you would ask God if given the chance. Your deep issues and toughest faith questions. We have compiled these questions and over the next few weeks are going to attempt to answer them, at least partially, through a careful examination of scripture, both in worship and online. We have some good ones, too, including questions of evil and suffering, free will and determination, why we don’t feel God with us, truth and the Bible, why the cross was necessary, homosexuality, divorce, the universe and extra-terrestial life, politics, premarital sex, suicide, and do all dogs go to heaven.
There’s more too. We are way excited about this series. You’re not going to want to miss a single week. Let’s get started with Questions for God.
We hung banners in the worship space to help extend the series’ image, or brand:
In addition, we created what we call a “walk up” video for each of the series’ sermons. Clips highlighting actual questions submitted by the congregation ran before senior pastor John Allen began to speak. It was a powerful way to set up the sermon. This one was from week four:
The series concept was a gift from God. Jason and I were speaking at a church in Michigan last May and someone caught me at the break with their recent series using Google as a metaphor for friendship and community. I began talking with the person about the idea of “Search” and the whole series came to me. (It is important to note that usually our series are more team designed and developed.)
We had a number of other creative elements during the series. The most impactful:
- Multiple looping backgrounds and still image variations of the series art to keep the series visually fresh for five weeks
- Clips from the film “Contact” with Jodie Foster for the week on science and the Bible
- The song “Further on Up the Road” by Amy Grant for the week on evil and suffering