It’s not uncommon for us to celebrate Thanksgiving with lists of what we’re thankful for. I’ve been seeing people doing it on Facebook since November started. Our lists can be long, detailed and impressive, but I read passages like Colossians 2:6-7 and I realize if a lack of thankfulness is the problem then a list isn’t the solution. Lists, while nice, are still a far cry from “abounding in thanksgiving.”
An article I recently read suggested that you should begin your Thanksgiving sermon series in October, when people still have time to think about Thanksgiving. By the time the actual holiday rolls around they’re already thinking about Christmas. I’ll admit, preaching on Thanksgiving might have been more fun than preaching on death, but I’m not sure a longer series would have been the answer.
This sermon went really well and I think people are excited about the series. There are a couple factors that I think really helped this one and I’m hoping will keep the momentum going until we’re all eating leftover turkey sandwiches.
1. I kept it positive. It would be really easy to berate people for their lack of thankfulness. “God does and does for you and this is the thanks he gets!” It’s hard to hear the reaction of the crowd, but they really loved it when I cited the statistic about average churches in America and told them they were above average (and I really believe they are). That kind of positivity goes a long way to keeping the crowd with you.
2. They contributed to the message. I’ve recently begun sending out two weekly “Connect@KCC” emails. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve asked people to tell me what they’re thankful for. While I didn’t use any of those in this message, I did use some of the responses in my Facebook post and an email to promote the message. My next message, from Colossians 3:15-17, will use several of their responses.
Sermon prep was interesting with this one. I started with an old sermon I intended to retread, but I just wasn’t “feeling it.” I ended up writing a completely new message. When I started the sermon I didn’t see the whole “trees/roots” illustration, it just sort of developed during the writing. I actually had a really nice illustration for that in the “built up in him” part, but I got ahead of myself while preaching and didn’t get back to it.