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 podcast, we’ll talk about ten 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: 6 minutes
Table of contents
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Don’t Scramble at the Last Minute
While it’s admirable to rely on the Lord and not your own strength, 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.
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.
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.
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.
You have everything it takes to create incredible and impactful sermons week after week. Just remember to focus on timeless topics, brainstorm consistently, and preach biblical truth. And when in doubt, lean on the Lord for guidance. He will never steer you wrong.