Balancing Preaching Series For 2021

 The beginning of a New Year is an ideal time to establish a preaching plan. There are a myriad of ways to approach this task, but I want to offer a framework for creating a collection of series designed to proclaim scriptural truth in a balanced manner that will address societal and individual needs for 2021.

Two Central Canada colleagues recently convened an online peer discussion. The topic was a recent Carey Nieuwhof interview of Tim Keller. In the interview, Keller asserted that the political division in North America presents an opportunity to help conservative churches preach on biblical topics that lean liberal and liberal churches to preach on biblical topics that lean conservative.

Keller offered four biblical themes and since this is 5 to Thrive, I will offer a fifth. Keller’s assessment is that for evangelicals, two of the themes lean “liberal” and two lean “conservative” (Nieuwhof, 2020). When Keller would preach about racial equality and economic justice in his New York City church, he would receive wide audience affirmation. When he would preach on the topics of sexual ethics or the biblical view of abortion, his New York City audience would be less inclined to affirm him. Preaching each of these biblical themes in four-to-six-week series would cover 25 to 30 weeks of preaching. Add in seasonal and regional themes and a balanced plan for the year comes together.
Here are five biblical themes you can use to help plan your preaching series for 2021:

  1. All Races Are Equal. This series would address one of the core societal issues that shook everyone in 2020. Preach a series of messages about how the gospel is good news for people from all nations and ethnicities. In a recent message from North Point Community Church, Pastor Andy Stanley stated that it is not enough for Christians to be “non-racist,” but rather must be “anti-racist” (Stanley, 2020). Through launching multi-cultural churches and through the immigrant connection, The Wesleyan Church is on the forefront of serving people from all nations. The Church’s approach to global mission also seeks to respect indigenous cultures in the presentation of the gospel.
  2. Why Wesleyans Are “Pro-Life.” A series on this topic will be sensitive. I am referring to “Pro-Life” in the relatively limited scope of opposition to intentional killing of innocent human beings in the womb and opposition to medically assisted suicide. Extreme care and compassion are called for. Key biblical themes of creation, forgiveness, suffering, and love will emerge. As a bonus, this series presents the opportunity to promote adoption. Once again, the Wesleyan Church offers resources on the sanctity of human life and adoption through the Hephzibah 62:4 ministry.
  3.  Good News for The Poor. A scriptural understanding of the Gospel addresses issues of economic injustice and poverty. The recent pandemic has unfortunately increased food insecurity and homelessness all over the world, including North America. A series on this topic will encourage generosity, fellowship, and compassion. The Global Partners Division of our denomination gives us a worldwide perspective into communities in need. We also collaborate with World Hope International  and World Hope International Canada.
  4. Holy Sexuality. In a recent Wesley Seminary Podcast hosted by Dr. Aaron Perry, his colleague, Dr. Chris Bounds speaks of sex as a sign and that signs matter. He states, “What we do with our bodies is a sign of our covenant faithfulness or unfaithfulness with God” (Bounds, 2020). This series would address how Christians can lovingly respond to widespread confusion over sexual identity and ethics. A book called Holy Sexuality and The Gospel by Christopher Yuan, inspired the suggested title for this series. The book includes a study guide usable as a resource for message preparation.
  5. The Embassy of Heaven. This series focuses on the mission and calling of the local church. God has established a kingdom and Christians are ambassadors. The British missiologist, Lesslie Newbigin, reminds us, “The church exists to testify that there is someone, that he has spoken, and that we can begin to know his purpose and to direct our personal and public lives by it” (Newbigin, p. 94). Preaching topics may include evangelism, disciple-making, apostolic mission and church multiplication. Resources from The Wesleyan Church that emphasize missional movement are available in our church multiplication collective.

To learn more about balancing preaching series for 2021, see the following resources:

See What Can We Do About Racism? a resource from Wesleyans to Wesleyans.

Newbigin, James Edward Lesslie. Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991.

Nieuwhof, Carey, host. “#339 Tim Keller on.” May 2020. How to Bring the Gospel to Post-Christian America, How He’d Preach Today if He was Starting Over Again, Why Founders Get Addicted to Their Churches and Why He Left Redeemer

”Perry, Aaron, host., Wesley Seminary Podcast “#153 Dr. Chris Bounds: Why Sexual Ethics Matter.” October 2020.
Stanley, Andy “This is the Human Race,”, June 2020

Yuan, Christopher. Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by God’s Grand Story. New York: Multnomah, 2018.

Intellectual contributor: Dr. Eric Hallett, district superintendent of the Central Canada District of The Wesleyan Church.

Executive editor: Russ Gunsalus

Curator of content: Dave Higle