Do you guys ever feel like all your church does is talk about the series they just did, the series they are doing right now and the upcoming series? Well, that's how I feel.
I need a serious break from series.
Now, before you get all defensive, just hear me out - I totally understand the purpose of series in a church and teaching setting. It makes lots of sense to me at times, but I think it's currently out of control.
I once heard a pastor say, "I plan all my messages for the entire year in a few weeks."
That statement really bothered me. My first thought was, "What if the Holy Spirit wants you to teach something different at a specific time? Would you just ignore the calling because it doesn't fit into the series you planned months ago?"
With series teaching, are we letting the spirit of God guide and move our churches? Or are we the ones doing the guiding and moving months and months in advance?
Last time I checked, I didn't see Jesus on the Mount saying, "Today I start a series in miracles." He met people where they were with his teachings. When He spoke to a solider, He spoke about solider things and when He spoke to a rich man, He spoke of rich man things.
I often think the modern church has a similar marketing strategy to a playoff basketball game. If you have ever seen a playoff basketball game the home team usually provides shirts for their fans to wear, so that the whole arena can be one color! A shirt will be waiting for you on your seat, so that the second you sit down and put it on you're a part of the "White out", "Red out" or "whatever-the-team-color-is -out". The only problem is that the shirt on your seat is going to be an XXL or XXXL t-shirt. So for me, it fits... but does it really fit?
Are we setting up series, way in advance, only to clothe the audience in an XXL white shirt because it will "fit" the most people? Or are we speaking to specific people that God is calling us to call out - week in and week out?
As Americans this sends us into a slight panic attack because we have to plan, plan, execute, be efficient and execute and plan. Did I say we have to plan? We need a roll-in video and graphic to all go together because that is going to be the most put together way to bring people to Jesus.
Jesus used 11 normal dudes with no roll-in videos to change the world because they were lead by His spirit. Doesn't seem like He was worried about it being all wrapped up in one pretty package.
So, what is the balance of series and spirit lead teachings? Can they be the same? Absolutely! I definitely think God speaks through series and puts series in our teachers hearts months in advance. I love what my buddy Levi Lusko does at Fresh Life Church in Montana. He speaks in series all the time, but leaves a few weekends a year open to whatever God wants to speak that week. As I've listented to his sermons, I've found that on those open weeks he is constantly saying things like, "I am so excited for this message God is giving us today!"
What if we just left just one weekend a month open to let the spirit of God move in our churches and not be so "planny"? Would we see something really amazing happen? I think when we give God the chance to move in our hearts, lives and churches, He will usually use that space and MOVE!
If you are a pastor or church leader I would challenge you to take a break from the never-ending series schedule and just let the spirit of God move! Maybe that's exactly what God's been waiting for.
Here is one of those "open weekends" where Levi preached a message called "Grace, Grace! Two Steps to Your Left". It is one of the most powerful messages I have ever heard and I totally recommend watching it below, or listening to it on their podcast here!