When it comes to preaching, many pastors feel at a loss for what to talk about week after week. It can be tough to come up with sermon topic ideas that are both interesting and applicable to modern-day life.
But if you’re feeling burnout or lost, never fear!
In this article and podcast, we’ll talk about the do’s and don’ts to help you develop sermon topic ideas to take you 52 weeks and beyond. Let’s get started!
Estimated reading time: 16 minutes
Table of contents
- The Do’s of Brainstorming Sermon Topics
- The Don’ts of Brainstorming Sermon Topics
- Sermon Topic Ideas
- Further Resources on Preaching
Brainstorming Sermon Topics
The sermon is the heart of every weekly Church service. And it is a pastor’s role every week to come up with a message that will fit in the right amount of time, will deliver a powerful and applicable message, and will actually change people and hearts.
Crafting a good sermon, however, is no easy task. It requires careful consideration of the diverse needs, interests, and spiritual journeys of those who gather to worship. So how do you go about brainstorming all these ideas?
Understanding Your Congregation
Church members are the heartbeat of every congregation, each with unique stories, struggles, and aspirations. Understanding the diverse spiritual needs and experiences within the congregation is paramount to crafting sermons that resonate deeply with listeners.
By engaging with church members, seeking their feedback, and understanding their cultural backgrounds and generational dynamics, pastors and church leaders can tailor sermon topics that speak directly to the hearts and minds of those who gather for worship.
Exploring Biblical Themes
The Bible serves as a rich tapestry of wisdom, offering timeless truths and narratives that inspire, convict, and challenge believers. Exploring biblical themes provides a firm foundation for crafting sermons that are rooted in God’s Word.
By delving into the depths of Scripture, pastors can uncover profound insights, timeless principles, and practical applications that resonate with the daily lives and struggles of church members.
From stories of redemption and grace to teachings on love, forgiveness, and discipleship, the Bible offers a wealth of material to inform and enrich sermon topics.
Crafting Engaging Messages
A good sermon not only informs but also inspires, encourages, and empowers listeners to live out their faith in tangible ways. Crafting engaging messages requires creativity, authenticity, and relevance.
By weaving personal anecdotes, real-life illustrations, and practical insights into sermons, pastors can create a dynamic and interactive worship experience that captivates the hearts and minds of church members.
Through prayer, discernment, and thoughtful preparation, pastors can harness the power of storytelling and biblical truth to deliver sermons that leave a lasting impact on the lives of those who gather for worship.
That was just an overview of everything that goes into crafting an awesome message. Next up, we’ve compiled our list of actionable Do’s and Don’ts while brainstorming your sermon topic ideas. We hope they can serve as guard rails to keep you on the right track and moving forward.
Let’s dive in.
The Do’s of Brainstorming Sermon Topics
Do Pray About Sermon Topic Ideas
This has to be the first “do” on the list because it’s the most vital part of sermon preparation. Although there’s a lot you can do to research ideas and spark creativity, you have to start with prayer first!
Divine inspiration sparks the best ideas and is anchored in the soundest principles. In addition, prayer keeps your motives aligned. Allow the Holy Spirit to highlight topics to you that are going to be relevant and powerful to your specific church and its members. God knows what His children need more than you ever could, so trust His guidance.
Do Consider Different Points of View
With a little bit of research into popular Christian media, you might have your eyes opened to specific sermon topics you would never have considered. It can be incredibly insightful to look into different demographics like men, women, teens, or young adults to generate fresh sermon topic ideas.
For inspiration, browse lists of popular titles when it comes to:
- Bestselling books
- Online articles from news outlets
Do Focus on Longevity
On the other hand, some topics are always relevant. For example, no matter what is going on in the world, people will always need to hear about things like love, forgiveness, and redemption.
People also obviously want to hear about Christmas topics in December or certain topics for New Years sermon ideas.
When it comes to sermon topic ideas, it’s essential to focus on topics that have longevity. In the online world, this is known as “evergreen content.” That means that if people search for something in five years and come across your sermon, it will be just as relevant and timely as it was when you first preached it.
Do Brainstorm Consistently
To maintain a consistent flow of ideas, it is vital to set aside time for brainstorming. Make a list of topics that you would like to explore further, and then do some research on each one to see what fits.
It would help if you also kept an ongoing bank of ideas either in a notebook or a digital note on your phone. Then, when you come across an interesting story, conversation, or an idea that comes to you out of the blue, be sure to record it. By making a habit of brainstorming and recording your thoughts, you will ensure that you always have a wellspring of material to draw from when it comes time to prepare your next sermon.
You can also keep a “sermon calendar” of sorts, to help you plan and schedule out your different sermons. Having a visual way to organize your sermon ideas, group them up into series, and use them for specific times of the year, can be a huge help in your sermon preparation.
Do Preach Biblical Truth
With all the hot-button issues in politics and culture, it can be tempting to take a stand in line with a popular platform, position, or group (or avoid it entirely as we just talked about). But as a pastor, you’re called first and foremost to preach the truth of God’s Word and not shrink back. Remember how Jesus had handled these issues!
So when it comes to those trendy topics, hot button issues, or current events, you can talk about them, but they shouldn’t be the main focus of your sermon title and content – the eternal truths of the Bible should. Rather than focus on the event or negative topic, dial in on the underlying issue and basic human needs. Then, tie into bigger patterns of history and biblical truth.
Everything in the Old Testament and the New Testament are still relevant today. The most powerful messages you could preach come from the words of God Himself in the Bible. Seek inspiration from a proverb, a God psalm, an epistle, or the words of Jesus Christ himself.
Use lots of scripture in your messages and speak what Jesus spoke, and you’ll make an impact.
Do Work to Your Strengths
The Lord has given each of us different spiritual gifts that should be used for the building up of the body. In 1 Peter 4:10-11 and Romans 12:6-8, Paul urges us to use our gifts to encourage and serve. It is our job to steward the spiritual gifts we have been given and use them to help others in their spiritual growth.
The Christian life is not like other lives, and the Christian faith is not like other faiths. The Almighty God has entrusted each of us with strengths and talents that only we possess. As a leader, speaker, and teacher in the church, play to the spiritual disciplines you’ve been given. And use the strengths of those around you as well! You have other amazing church members and volunteers around you, so use their unique skills to help out during sermons.
Do Seek Feedback from Others
Healthy relationships are two-sided. Many churches can fall into the trap of treating church members like they don’t ultimately matter or that their perspectives are not important. They are your primary audience! They have a better idea than anyone of what you talk about on the pulpit and how it is received.
This is not to say to trust everything a member of your church says or follow their advice to a tee. God has put certain people into leadership positions because they can be trusted there. But He also surrounds those leaders with people who can provide wisdom and feedback due to their unique perspectives. A foolish leader thinks they know everything and don’t need anyone’s help.
Seek feedback from others. People on the leadership team, people who regularly attend your church, etc. We each hold a piece of God’s character, and wholeness comes from taking everyone into account.
The Don’ts of Brainstorming Sermon Topics
Don’t Seek Popularity
It is easy to get caught up in looking for popular topics that will win approval. However, it’s important to remember that the goal of a sermon is to teach the Word of God, not to please the listeners and just tell them what they want to hear.
Don’t be afraid to choose a topic that will challenge and inspire people to grow in their faith. This is the difference between solid, healthy food and empty, junk food. The junk food tastes good in the moment, but if you want to get healthier and stronger in the long run, you need the high-quality stuff. People will continue coming back if you give them sound topics and teachings.
Don’t Get Repetitive
We all have our favorite topics. Sometimes that’s because of personal preference, familiarity, and interest. Or, we view things through the lens of the most impactful events and stories of our own lives.
But if you find yourself preaching on the same subjects each year, sharing the same stories, and using the same illustrations and Bible passages, it might be time to switch things up.
Don’t Try to Be Too Trendy
At the same time, don’t strive to be trendy. It can be tempting to jump on the latest bandwagon or pop culture flavor of the week. But trends have an increasingly shorter shelf life these days.
If you’re preaching about a news story, controversy, or something that is only popular for a specific time, your congregation may not find it relevant even a few months later. In addition, you may come across as cheesy, inauthentic, or trying too hard if you’re always chasing trends.
Don’t Scramble at the Last Minute
While relying on the Lord and not your own strength is admirable, it’s also wise to plan ahead. If you’re scrambling week-to-week for your upcoming Sunday sermon idea, you’ll likely fall into a repetitive rut or “borrow” liberally from other sermons.
Lots of pastors do their sermon prep on Monday, the day after preaching their last message. This gives them a full week to make tweaks, fix problems, get feedback, or make preparations for any demonstrations or pictures they’ll be making during the sermon.
When you’re prepared, you’re more confident too. You can feel secure in the things you are preaching about because you’ve researched them and prayed over them. And a solid delivery is important in getting the Word of God into the minds and hearts of the congregation.
Don’t Avoid Hard Topics
As a pastor, you are called to preach the word of God, even when it’s challenging. There are many complex topics in the Bible, from violence and war to sex and relationships. It can be tempting to avoid these challenging topics, especially if you are worried about offending your congregation.
However, remember that the difficult topics are the ones people want to hear about the most. These subjects have the most significant impact on people’s daily lives and are usually where they most need transformation. By preaching on hard topics, you can model how to approach difficult conversations with grace and compassion.
Don’t Get Complicated
Picture this: your congregation is in for a spiritual feast, and you’re the chef. Now, no one likes a dish with too many ingredients, right? If you put everything into a dish, you can’t taste anything. Some things have to be cut so other things can stand out.
Same goes for sermons. Keep it simple, keep it real.
It’s important to resist the urge to overseason your message with complicated theology. Your church isn’t here for a brain workout; they’re here for a heart-to-heart. Break it down, make it relatable, and watch those “aha” moments light up their faces.
Remember, “Don’t Get Complicated” doesn’t mean dumbing things down. It’s about clarity. Your congregation isn’t a theology class; it’s a community hungry for a spiritual snack. So, serve up your message with a side of simplicity.
Sermon Topic Idea Examples
That’s our list of sermon brainstorming Do’s and Don’ts! Now that we’ve equipped you with a ton of tips on brainstorming sermon topics, we wanted to give you a list of example topics to get you started. You can borrow these topics one-to-one, or just use them as jumping-off points for your own sermons.
For our full comprehensive list of 72 sermon series ideas, click HERE.
Here are our simple ideas to kickstart your brainstorming process, divided into three sections: Themes, Stories, and Application.
These sermon topic ideas center around different Biblical themes that can be found in Bible passage after Bible passage. Each one suggests some verses/Bible stories to get you started, but you are sure to find a lot more supporting that theme if you delve into it.
Love and Compassion
Firstly, you can preach a sermon exploring the concept of love and compassion as taught by Christ Jesus. Discuss how these virtues can transform lives and build stronger communities. Use biblical passages such as John 13:34-35 as your sermon material.
Faith and Trust
Delve into the importance of faith and trust in God’s plan. Share stories of biblical figures like Abraham (Genesis 12-25) or Job who demonstrated unwavering faith in challenging times. Encourage your congregation to trust in God’s guidance, even in the face of adversity.
Forgiveness and Redemption
Reflect on the power of forgiveness and redemption in the Christian faith. Use the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) to illustrate God’s unconditional love and forgiveness towards His children. Discuss how embracing forgiveness can bring healing and reconciliation in relationships.
As many people know, there is nothing as captivating and engaging as a good story. They keep our attention and can influence us in deep ways, teaching us important lessons that we can apply to our own lives. Here are some ideas for sermons centered around stories.
Miracles of Jesus
Explore the miraculous deeds of Christ Jesus as recorded in the Gospels. Share accounts of Jesus healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and calming the storms. Use these stories to highlight God’s power and compassion in the lives of His people.
Heroes of Faith
Highlight the stories of biblical heroes who faced adversity with courage and faith. Discuss the faithfulness of figures like Noah, Moses, and David, drawing inspiration from their journeys of obedience and trust in God’s promises.
Invite members of your congregation to share personal testimonies of God’s faithfulness and provision in their lives. These real-life stories can serve as powerful sermon illustrations, demonstrating God’s active presence and work in the lives of believers today.
These sermons are all about practical things Christians can learn and apply to their lives today. The sermons are rooted in Biblical truths and lessons but are focused a lot more on how we can apply these truths in our modern day and age.
Prayer and Spiritual Growth
Provide practical tips for cultivating a deeper prayer life and fostering spiritual growth. Encourage your congregation to seek intimacy with God through regular prayer, meditation on Scripture, and fellowship with other believers.
Living out the Gospel
Challenge your congregation to live out their faith in tangible ways. Discuss how following Christ involves not only belief but also action, such as serving the marginalized, practicing kindness, and advocating for justice in the world.
Community and Fellowship
Emphasize the importance of Christian community and fellowship in nurturing faith and discipleship. Encourage your congregation to actively participate in church gatherings, small groups, and outreach initiatives to build strong bonds of love and support within the body of Christ.
Incorporate these themes, stories, and practical applications into your sermon preparation to deliver impactful messages that resonate with your congregation and inspire spiritual growth.
Sermon Topic Ideas
In wrapping up our exploration of the do’s and don’ts for brainstorming sermon topics, it’s evident that the art of selecting compelling themes is as much about intentionality as it is about connection. The do’s have revealed the significance of prayerful reflection, scriptural exploration, and a deep understanding of the congregation’s needs. Engaging in collaborative discussions and staying attuned to the pulse of contemporary issues ensures a relevant and impactful sermon.
On the flip side, the don’ts have reminded us of the pitfalls to avoid – neglecting prayer, dismissing congregation input, and shying away from uncomfortable yet transformative topics. We’ve seen the importance of a solid biblical foundation, cultural relevance, and the clarity of communication in steering clear of potential pitfalls.
As preachers and spiritual leaders, let’s carry these insights forward. Let our brainstorming sessions be infused with prayer, inclusive of diverse perspectives, and rooted in the timeless wisdom of scripture. May we navigate the delicate balance between familiarity and challenge, ensuring our sermons are not just heard but deeply felt by those we serve.
In the ups and downs of spiritual leadership, the journey of sermon preparation is an evolving one. By heeding these do’s and avoiding those don’ts, we can craft sermons that resonate, inspire, and lead our churches on a transformative journey of faith.
So, as you embark on your next sermon brainstorming session, may these guidelines be your compass, guiding you toward messages that uplift, challenge, and bring forth spiritual growth. Happy preaching and God bless!