How Your Church Creative Team Can Make Your Preacher’s Sermons Sticky

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications

We work hard to study, prepare and preach God’s word each Sunday. Fortunately, one of the most common statements I’ve heard from visitors and members over the years is, “I love the preaching here,” and “The sermon this past Sunday was amazing.”

Yet, if I ask, “What did you like about it?” or “What stood out to you?” they often reply, “Well … I don’t remember exactly. But it was so good.”

This isn’t unique to Sojourn. I’ve heard this — I’ve said this — about many sermons in all kinds of churches over the years. Why? If someone asks me, on a Wednesday, what the Sunday sermon was about, I need to excavate that sermon in my memory from the rubble of everything that has fallen on top of it in the past few days:

  • Netflix and other viewing
  • Podcast episodes (including other sermons)
  • Blog posts and social media conversations
  • Whatever book(s) I’ve been reading
  • Other messaging my church has broadcast (“come to X event,” “sign up to serve in X ministry”)
  • Music I’ve listened to, meetings I’ve taken part in, etc.

So how can churches cut through the noise and help people remember the Sunday sermon on Monday, Tuesday and all the way to Saturday?

For us, it begins every Tuesday morning in our Creative Team meeting. We established this meeting-of-the-minds between Lead Pastor Jonah Sage, Worship Director Justin Shaffer and myself (Associate Pastor Bobby Gilles) to make sure we were all in sync as we barreled toward Sunday. Nowadays we’ve expanded to often include leaders in Family ministry (Stephen Pierce), Women’s ministry (Lindsey Blair), and College ministry (Andy Davidson). And if a non-staff preacher is on the preaching schedule for the upcoming Sunday, that person joins the meeting.

This meeting covers logistical issues, but is primarily about making sure the sermon and the rest of the liturgy work together. Jonah or whoever is preaching brings their manuscript (we write sermons a week ahead of time). Justin brings his liturgy, which is about 3/4 complete. We talk through each, and make sure they flow together. Sometimes we come up with ideas to illustrate or reinforce the sermon:

  • In the finale to a sermon series called “HIStory: Finding The More You Were Made For” we held a ministry fair in the lobby. We gave each ministry leader a different recipe for S’more bars (like Rice Krispy treats with S’more ingredients). Some contained milk chocolate, some caramel, etc. Then in the sermon we said, “Visit our ministry booths to receive help finding the more you were made for. And maybe you’ll also find the S’more you were made for.”
  • For a sermon about the necessity of experiencing God rather than just learning facts about him, we decided to hand out delicious homemade cookies to everyone in the auditorium after Jonah recited a cookie recipe. The takeaway: “Which did you prefer, hearing about how to make the cookie, or eating the cookie?”
  • In a sermon about overcoming fear, we supplied notecards and asked everyone present to write down something they would do if they weren’t afraid. Afterwards, we asked them to drop their notecards into a bucket, so the pastors could pray over them the following week.

Beyond this, my role in this meeting is to break the sermon into a series of components that will help people remember it. This means:

  • I write the “Big Idea” sentence into our end-of-service announcements as a recap (“… today, Pastor Jonah taught us that ________”).
  • I pair this “Big Idea” and several other sermon quotes with our series artwork to create daily social media posts for the following week, which will include the hashtag #SaidItSunday.
  • I repeat the “Big Idea” sentence in the following week’s eNewsletter and in the sermon description for our sermon audio (in our free app) and video (in our sermon series channel on Rightnow Media).
  • The Big Idea becomes a “Last Sunday Recap” slide in the following Sunday’s pre-service slide show.
  • I write five multiple choice questions based on the sermon manuscript. I use Online Quiz Creator to turn the questions into a short, gamified online quiz.

Then here’s what I do on Sunday and the following week:

  1. Sunday morning: 9am live stream on the Sojourn New Albany Facebook page.
  2. Sunday afternoon: Sermon video recording uploaded to Vimeo, then configured on Rightnow Media (along with discussion questions, sermon manuscript, liturgy manuscript). Same video configured on our free “Sojourn Collective iPhone/Android app, along with one-to-four individual song videos.
  3. By Monday afternoon: Audio recording of the sermon mastered and posted to podcast media, website, app.
  4. Monday afternoon: Link to online quiz in our app and eNewsletter.
  5. Monday evening: Weekly eNewsletter sent w/ Big Idea restatement, links to whole service on Facebook, plus links to sermon in podcast, app & Rightnow Media.
  6. Monday-Friday: Daily #SaidItSunday quote from the sermon posted on series artwork for Facebook and Instagram
  7. Monday-Friday: Video links to live worship songs posted on Facebook with #SangItSunday hashtag.

Quite a few members have told me that these things help jog their memories. And if memory fails, they can quickly pull out their phone, open up our app and see the Big Idea for every sermon — and even listen to the sermon and take the quiz. If they really want to dive in deep they can read the whole sermon manuscript and answer discussion questions on Rightnow Media, which also has a free iPhone/Android app.

That’s where we are at right now. We’re always interested in fine tuning and learning from others. I’d love to hear what your church does — reach out to me on Twitter.

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