In this series of blogs, we have discussed the advantages of planning your preaching and identified a process for doing so. We ended our last conversation, having considered the kinds of messages and sermon series you would schedule. But how do you schedule them?
Again, our first step is to seek God’s direction. We certainly want His help in scheduling the portions of His Word we will share with the people. He, alone, knows the challenges and issues your people will encounter, and He will guide us to just the right words in just the right moments.
As He guides you, consider the strategic opportunities of the coming year. Are there ministry moments on the calendar that would benefit from a close connection to your preaching? For example, wouldn’t a mission-focused series fit just ahead of your outreach plans? Knowing what your congregation will be doing this year allows you to schedule your preaching in a way that contributes to their efforts.
Let’s call this a “strategic” calendar. Really, it’s just a merger of your “event” and “preaching” calendars. When you combine your preaching with an event that gives feet to your words, the truths can naturally drive deeper into your people’s lives. So in places where your planned preaching can be an asset to congregational activity, it makes sense to align your schedule.
Also, you’ll want to bring balance to your themes. If you spend 6-8 weeks on doctrinal themes, you’ll likely want to follow that series with preaching that’s more application focused. Back-to-back doctrinal studies or Bible-book studies that come from similar settings may end up feeling like one long series. Using a varied approach probably means not following a series from Galatians with a series from Colossians. Yes, there are differences (significant ones), but you may need to be a Bible scholar to keep those differences clear in your mind–and your audience can’t be counted on for such historical clarity. Mix it up!
Finally, consider your congregation’s attendance patterns. Every church has months where attendance is high, and we all have those other months too. Plan your most important series–like a vision series, a Christian living series, a missional series, or even a stewardship series, for high attendance times. Use high attendance times for those things you believe God is most clearly speaking to your people. Of course, that doesn’t mean those other Sundays are less important, but match the messages you believe are most needed with the times when most of your congregation will be there to receive them.
Finally, scheduling your special guests, missionary speakers, etc. is a great way to become more intentional in giving focus to these moments. If you simply wait for the phone to ring to think about a guest speaker, you’re missing a chance to be more intentional. Knowing what month you want a missionary speaker means you can initiate the contact with the individual you want to impact your congregation.
Ultimately, the preaching calendar allows you to be more intentional and involve more people in helping you communicate the truths of God’s Word. Certainly, you can always maintain the flexibility necessary to adjust your plan if a clear need arises, but now you know the what and when of your preaching so other ministry leaders can bring their communication gifts (music, drama, media, decor) alongside to enhance your ministry efforts.
ONE FINAL NOTE: Many pastors say that their first efforts at a preaching calendar didn’t feel successful. They found themselves changing the plan frequently throughout their year so they just gave up and went back to their older approaches. Give yourself time to adapt to a new way of doing things. You may need a year or two before new habits become comfortable. Don’t hold yourself to an unrealistic standard. Just make a new effort and grow into your new approach. The lessons you learn along the way are often what make the journey as worthwhile as the ultimate destination.
If you have questions or ideas to share, just respond to this blog. We look forward to hearing from you…