the shape of leadership

Keep the Conversation Going

Creating a sermon discussion guide

Chris Colvin on April 15, 2021

Engaging in faith discussions is an important part of discipleship. Jesus modeled this in His teaching and interaction with the twelve disciples. What if you could give people a way to keep the conversation you started on Sunday going all week long? You can!

As the main communicator in your church, you’re already preparing a message weekly. Use that as a way to jump-start an ongoing conversation. Turn your sermon into a discussion guide that helps continue your discipling efforts.

Why It Works

Using your sermon notes as a discussion guide is a natural way to extend your discipleship pathway. When there is a progression from what people hear on the weekend to what they learn throughout the week, growth happens organically.

As people meet with their families over dinner, with co-workers at lunch, or with friends from church whenever they get together, give them some way to reflect on and apply what they’ve already heard.

Connect your congregation’s Sunday to their Monday through Friday, and get them talking about God’s Word all week. Help people see how their church experience applies to their everyday lives.

Putting It Together

Creating a discussion guide is easier than you might think. Here are some simple steps to follow:

Find the main idea. Every sermon should have one main idea. The more direct and obvious it is, the better. In fact, you may want to say something like, “If you only get one thing from today’s message, it should be this … .”

Too many ideas can dilute a sermon’s effectiveness. But when you know the one main idea, you can stay focused during your preparation and presentation. If you’re having a hard time finding the main idea, you can’t expect your congregation to identify it. Write it down, and base the entire discussion around it.

Help people see
how their church
experience applies to
their everyday lives.

Write out your main points. Even though your sermon should have one main idea, it can have multiple main points. You may preach two, three, or even seven ideas that all stem from and support the main idea.

Of course, not all messages fit neatly into the “three things I want you to think about” model. In such instances, look for the important principles that flow from your main idea. Pay attention to the logical structure of the text and the message.

Notice the arguments you are using to communicate your main idea. Once you find those main points, transfer them to your discussion guide.

Pick up what you cut out. During your sermon prep, you likely discovered some interesting things that didn’t make it into the message. There were probably some relevant facts about the text you had to leave out. Perhaps there was a great illustration you chose not to include.

Your sermon time is limited, so you can’t use everything. But a discussion guide provides an opportunity to go deeper and offer even more insight.

Ask open-ended questions. Prompt discussion with thought-provoking questions.

Avoid questions people can answer with a simple “yes” or “no.” For example, you won’t spark much dialogue by asking, “Do you think Jesus wants us to share our faith?” Instead, say, “How do you think Jesus wants us to share our faith? Tell about the last time you shared your faith.”

When you get people talking, they’re also thinking. When they are thinking, they’re more likely to act.

Apply it to real life. This is the key to any discipleship pathway. When people put the message into action, they grow.

For example, just talking about reading the Bible more isn’t likely to make a difference in a person’s daily habits. Doing something about it — like setting measurable reading goals, following a daily plan, and staying accountable — can create real life change.

In Matthew 7:24, Jesus compared those who acted on His words to a wise man building a house on a secure foundation. Picture your people’s spiritual lives as houses. How can they best build on that secure foundation of faith? By putting truth into action.

Sermon-based discussion guides are a great way to keep God’s truth in front of your congregants all week long.

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