Preparing for Your First Sermon Series of the New Year

Once your Christmas services are completed, you’ll likely be ready for some time off before the new year begins. And since it’s been an eventful year in ministry, you’ll need this time to recharge, relax, and soak in the holidays with your loved ones.

But don’t forget about making plans for the beginning of 2022. The new year is a time when people are particularly open to making spiritual changes in their lives. In fact, many non-believers questioned God more than ever this past year. Whether or not some of them attended your services physically or virtually, they were likely thinking about their relationship with Jesus. Attending church and getting to know God better are common resolutions people make as they head into the new year.

Plus, with kids heading back to school again in January, many families are looking to begin new habits. They’re more open to adding new commitments to their schedules than they will be at other times. (When kids start school in the fall is another key time when families are open to changing up their schedules.)

That means your first few services of the new year are particularly important. While you should take a break to recharge after Christmas services are over, make sure you’ve laid the groundwork for a great start to 2022. 

Here are a few actions you can take to make sure your first month of the new year is a success.

Invite all your Christmas guests to come back to church in January.

If you haven’t done so yet, let your guests know what’s going on at your church in January. Many of the first-time guests you’ll have during Christmas aren’t even thinking about church attendance in the new year. They’ve grown accustomed to attending church on holidays only and have never considered making a long-term commitment.

Whether you do this via email, text, social media, or through the mail, send a thank you note soon, letting them know you appreciate how they took time out of their holiday schedule to attend. Make it warm and personal. It’s your opportunity to express love and care for people who may have a very minimal history with churches.

When you send out this message, I recommend signing it with only your first name. I always want guests to relate to me on a first-name basis. This may not work for your particular church, and that’s fine. If possible, though, I believe unchurched people will appreciate a more personal approach.

To make it even more personal, call your Christmas guests to invite them back to church in the new year. You don’t need to make all the calls yourself—enlist some volunteers to help. But don’t do this in place of sending a letter or an email. You want to make the information about what to expect in January accessible for them to look at later.

Preach on felt needs of people in your community.

We know the Gospel is everyone’s foundational need. That’s why you want to prioritize sharing the Gospel message with your unchurched visitors. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also specifically address some of their current needs.

Because the new year is a season when people are looking to make changes in their lives, it’s the perfect time to engage their need to get healthy, get out of debt, become a better parent, or even reconnect with God. When you speak on the areas they want to make changes in, you increase the likelihood of getting their attention. The Bible speaks deeply to all of these things.

Provide “next steps” that welcome guests into the life of your church.

The entire month of December will likely be a high point for your church with increased attendance. But you’re not just trying to draw people to attend. Anyone can draw a crowd. You’re building a church family.

I hope you’re providing next steps in every sermon you preach. It’s particularly important in January to offer corporate next steps for your listeners—steps that will move people toward deeper involvement in your church. What are some next steps? Getting people involved in small groups, introducing them to your membership class, and plugging them into ministry. These next steps allow you to connect them to other people in your church and increase the likelihood that they’ll engage in ongoing discipleship.

Pastor, make sure you take some time off this Christmas season. You’ve earned it! But don’t neglect spending some time thinking about how you’ll connect with all those people you’ve reached throughout the month of December.

Your follow-up strategy is every bit as important as what you do during the Christmas season.

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To address some of your members’ deepest needs, here are some sermons you can preach in the new year:

Preparing for Your First Sermon Series of the New Year, by Rick Warren, is an article from Pastors.com. © 2012 Pastors.com.

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