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Creating a Logical Sequence of Topics in a Short Series Part 2

By Russell Burrill

In the previous article we examined what a sequence of topics would look like where the assumption was that the people coming to the series have previously been exposed to the Adventist message and therefore did not need extensive exposure to the message. Therefore the focus was on helping them make a lasting decision to become a part of the Adventist movement.

Our premise is predicated on the three decisions one seeks in an evangelistic series: Christ, biblical truth, and joining the church. We suggested a series that still covers all three areas, but with special emphasis on the third area.

In this article, we wish to make a suggestion on sequencing based on a different assumption. That assumption is that the people that are attending have not had any previous exposure to the Adventist message. It operates on the assumption that you will not be attempting to have people make a decision for baptism at the end. Instead the focus would be to help people make a commitment to deeper Bible study where they will study the truths of Adventism in greater detail.

In such a series you should cover basic Christianity and have just a brief introduction to testing truths. This is solely for the purpose of helping people realize that there is much more truth they need to learn and they will want to study the Bible in greater depth. Because you cannot do this series on Sabbath morning, I am suggesting a 10 message series instead of a 12 sermon approach as in the previous article.

Remember that there are many ways to cover these topics, and what follows is just one possible suggestion that operates on the assumptions noted above.

Bible as the reliable Word of God

The Divinity of Jesus

The Plan of Salvation

The Assurance of Salvation

The Promise of Jesus’ Return (Do not cover the rapture)

The Hope of the Judgment (Focus on the judgment as providing assurance of salvation)

The Hope of Heaven

The Three Angels Messages

The Predicted Apostasy

Need for Deeper Bible study

Your purpose in this series is to get people into a Bible study plan. Here you will cover deeper truths. What are you doing in this series? You first of all are establishing the Bible as reliable and Jesus as the divine Son of God and presenting the salvation He offers. People should be strongly urged to surrender to Jesus and accept Him as their Savior. That is the first half of the series.

In the second half of the series you are attempting to show that there is much more to discover about Jesus. I suggest covering the 2300 days here. The reason is that this truth does not require changing life practices. However the focus should be on the positive side of the judgment and revealing that when one has Jesus as Savior the outcome of the judgment is certain.

In covering the Three Angels messages you are opening up the prophetic message for the last days. You obviously would not cover the details of the three angels such as the fall of Babylon or the mark of the beast, but instead put the emphasis on the fact that the last message to the world is a gospel centered message – the everlasting gospel.

It would be helpful to cover the fact that error has crept into the church during the Middle Ages (don’t cover what errors). The focus would then be that we need to study further to discover what the Bible says because of the predicted apostasy. Be careful here to not become negative to the papacy. That is not your purpose. It is to show that error has come in so we need to study deeper into the Bible.

Your last message would then totally focus on the need for further Bible study. That is why your last two messages are helping people to get involved in further Bible study. Remember this is the outcome you want from the series, so throughout the series focus on the need for deeper study with a special emphasis on this in the last two messages.

Remember the focus of a series is to bring people to Jesus, His truth and ultimately to His church. Because of the assumption you are making in this series, you are primarily focusing on stage one, bringing people to Jesus and whetting their appetites for further study.

Russell Burrill is a professor emeritus of church growth at the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary, Andrews University