In his latest Ministry Toolbox newsletter, Rick Warren discusses his research team–and how any pastor can have such a team using laypeople from the congregation. He observes: “Any pastor–no matter how small his church–can have a research team. No matter what size your congregation, there are people in your church who like to read and research. They are shaped by God for this very thing. They’ll be thrilled to help you with your sermon preparation, if you just give them a list of your sermon topics.
“I meet with my lay research team every few months, and I explain the direction I’m headed with my sermons, including any sermon series that I’ll preach. I then tell them what to look for–quotes, illustrations, articles, statistics…
“You should explain two rules to your research team:
“First, whatever they give you, they won’t get back. In other words, they need to give you a copy. You do not want the responsibility of returning an article or a book, etc. Plus, you may not use their research this time around; however, you may later, and you need to file it for that future use.
“Second, tell your team how much you appreciate its efforts, but that you may not be able to use everything the members give you. I ask my team members not to get their feelings hurt if I don’t use what they’ve given me. I say, ‘I always get more material than I possibly could use, and I don’t want you thinking, “Gee, I did all this research, and he didn’t use it.” Your research may have helped me as I formed the sermon; it may have sparked one of the ideas, but it didn’t make it into the sermon in a form you recognize.’ I also explain that I may use some of their research at another time in another sermon.” (Click here to read the full article.)”