Developing A Message Series And Compiling Data

I like writing, but compiling research for a message series is a little complicated for me.  I spent most of my afternoon yesterday reviewing the surveys I gave to students regarding our next series “Chicken and Egg: Discovering What Comes First”.  It’s a series on priorities and while my survey is far from scientific this is what I’ve discovered so far:

  • Our students put family at the top of the list.
  • Food is above grades on the priority list but equal to God.
  • They believe their friend’s number one priority are friends.

Again, this is not scientific and it’s only about 20 surveys, but it got my creative thoughts flowing.  Sometimes starting from scratch can be really difficult, so I put together several tips to compiling a message series:

  • Survey The Students:  Unless you have Barna Group working for you this isn’t going to be accurate.  But the fruit from survey students is that it begins to open up their world.  We can research data from websites and professional research companies (which are important to do); however, by surveying your students, you learn what’s important to them.
  • Scripture Systems:  Some denominations such as mine (Roman Catholic) follow a liturgical calendar, meaning we have set readings for every day of the year.  By taking time to study the themes that emerge from the daily readings we can see how certain themes are seasonal.  There are the more obvious like Advent leading up to Christmas and Lent leading up to Easter.  As a church we’ve found that the best time to talk about money according to the liturgical calendar is the fall, because most of the readings heard at worship deal with this theme.  
  • Adapt a Book:  What are you reading?  Our student ministry has adapted everything from Purpose Driven Life to The Worst Case Scenario Handbook.  We’ve taken themes, ideas and even their principles to put together a message series that will draw the students to Christ.  
  • Borrow Someone Else’ Idea:  I’ve written about this before, but companies like Simply Youth Ministry, YM 360, Group, Youth Specialities are all filled with canned message series.  Adapting one of these is the simplest way (in my opinion) of putting together a message series.  Sometimes they let you copy it verbatim, just don’t steal by trying to make a profit off of it.

I know not every student ministry develops message series and the argument for that would be another post.  Developing a message series can be strenuous that’s why it’s important to see what others have done, what’s on the students mind and look to the church for guidance.  I’m finding it important for us as youth workers to share what we’ve found helpful in our ministries.
What are some other tools or insights you can offer to developing a message series?

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