Take The Struggle Out Of Message Development

We do a lot of outsourcing in the summer which gives me the time to plan out a year of message writing.  If you are a youth worker that delivers a message on a regular basis you know the grind of producing one week in and week out.  There are times where you feel as if what you are delivering isn’t up par.  There are going to be weeks when you struggle with a topic, scripture or delivery because of unplanned circumstances.  Believe it or not there are a few steps to ensure a years worth of quality messages.
How is it possible?  It starts with a system, like this one:

  1. Know The Truths Ahead Of Time:  To unfold and comprehend the entire Gospel in one year is next to impossible.  Andy Stanley and Stuart Hall wrote The Seven Checkpoints which lays out the Biblical truths that North Point wants their teens to embrace.  Too many times we try to teach it all without teaching anything.  What I’m proposing is to focus on a few that will lead the teens to more, Andy calls it Teach Less For More.  At the end of the day what are the core truths you want them to know?  Answering this question will make you efficient in message development.
  2. Put Margin In The Process: Whether you plan an entire year of message series at once or give yourself 3 months margin it’s important to plan ahead.  If you are going week in and week out you aren’t giving yourself room to fail, get busy or take breaks.  Know that in the next year you are going to face a mammoth amount of distractions and obstacles.  Margin will give you the grace to complete each message without going crazy.
  3. Evernote Like Crazy: I’m jumping on the Evernote bandwagon, but I’m using it to catalog my research.  Even if you don’t want to use this truly amazing software (they are not paying me), create a system where you can store articles, stories, videos, photos, etc.  Create a system that will not only help you gather information but organize it as well.  When you can spend time just researching and then hit the year easily pulling out references, studies and stories you’ll find developing a point somewhat easier. 
  4. Follow And Sit With A Liturgical Calendar: We follow a liturgical calendar which helps us develop message series.  If your church or denomination doesn’t follow one then it’s important to sit down and plan out the road of scripture you will want to take.  Once that’s decided, sit with it.  Again, it’s about giving yourself margin, but by reading through His word over and over again you allow Him to work through you.  Our faith gives us seasons and themes…use them.

We all work at different paces, but that should not prevent you from creating a system for long term message development.  A system is like a path, it gives you direction and parameters.  From time to time you’ll need to change the system, but again it keeps you on track.  I know some of us want to go with the Spirit, but even He will give you a path, so follow it.

What steps do you take for long term message planning?