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How to Use A Lay Research Team

Any pastor — no matter how small his church — can have a research team.

No matter what size your congregation, there are people there who like to read and research. They’ll be thrilled to help you, if you just give them a list of your sermon topics.

I meet with my lay research team every few months, and I explain to them the direction I’m going to take with my sermons, including any sermon series that I’ll preach. I then tell them what to look for: quotes, illustrations, articles, statistics.

There are two rules for the research team:

First, whatever they give me, they won’t get back. In other words, give me a copy, because I don’t want to be responsible for returning an article or a book, etc. If I don’t use it, then I’ll file it for future use.

Second, I tell them to not get their feelings hurt if I don’t use what they’ve given me. I always get more material than I could possibly use, and I don’t want someone saying, “Gee, I did all this research, and he didn’t use it.” Their research may have helped me as I formed the sermon, but it never made it into the sermon. Or, I may use some of their research at another time.

I set up one person as the liaison with the research team. That way, everyone can feed the information to one person, and then that person can give the results to me. It keeps me from getting 15 different messages from 15 different people.

And, finally, I request the information be sent through email. That way I can cut and paste it right into my sermon notes.

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