[This post is a part of the Creating a Sermon Series series]
One of the most difficult, yet also most rewarding parts of building a sermon series is getting ideas. Anybody can come up with great ideas for a teaching series; the reason that oftentimes people don't is because it takes a level of discipline and practice to do so. It can be very hard work, but when you work through planning a series and know that the the theme will connect with the students, it is well worth it.
Learn to Steal Well
Great artists steal. Steve jobs said it, picasso said it. Let's be clear, I'm not talking about plagiarism. I think it is terrible for any artist, especially those in the church, to rip off somebody else's idea. What a great artist will do, however, is learn to take ideas from several different sources and use the ideas of others transform it into an entirely new creation. When you watch TV do you see ideas that could become inspiration for a series? When you walk through the grocery store, what do you notice about people and the objects you see, could those inspire an idea? When you listen to other preachers, what ideas start rolling around in your head? Generating ideas for sermon series in large part requires us to be intentional about paying attention to everyday occurances because anything might be worth stealing from.
Write It All Down
We have all had situations where we wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea and are sure that we'll remember it in the morning. Then the morning comes. And the idea is lost forever. It doesn't matter how good your idea is, you need to write it down. You won't remember it in the morning; you might not even remember it an hour later. Even it you have an average idea, write it down because it might later inspire other ideas. Find tools that you can use to write down any unfiltered ideas that you think could be used for something. You may not even know what you will use an idea for; it might clearly not fit as a sermon series idea, but it might be good for something else later.
Give It Time
Anytime I have a great idea, I want to use it right away. I look for ways to bring it into my upcoming teaching even when it seems to be a stretch. It's a natural part of creativity; you get excited about sharing your ideas, but learning to be patient with ideas is critical. As you begin to generate ideas, learn to give your ideas time to grow. Your idea may work good now, but 3 months from now it may be incredible. Give your ideas time to grow as you reflect on it and add to it. Once you write down your idea, let it sit and percolate until the perfect moment when it would make no sense to not use it.
How do you come up with ideas for your sermon series?