When I first started interviewing with Discovery about being the preaching pastor, I felt this nagging concern that I would never be able to preach every week. I’d simply run out of ideas or worse yet, I’d stand in front of the congregation one Sunday with an empty head and heart and having no option left but to glare at everybody and say, “what are you looking at?” and then walk away and sell cars. (retroactive warning: preacher psychosis!)
At our recent BLN North gathering, Joe Beckler discussed the sermon calendar and the importance of planning ahead, both for the preacher’s stamina and the rest of the team’s sanity. Two out of our team regularly work on a 12 month calendar and one other guy works 3 or 4 months ahead, but many of our guys do not work an annual calendar.
This post: benefits of a sermon calendar. Next post: how we create one. Then: taking a series idea and fleshing it out into a working sermon series full of content.
Here’s what a 12 month preaching calendar is not:
— it is not a fully fleshed out year of sermons.
— it is not set in stone
— it is not “man driven” planning, bypassing the work of the Holy Spirit in preaching.
So What Is It?
— A prayerfully driven annual guide of themes, ideas and passages.
— A way to make sure you’re offering a balanced diet of Scripture.
— A way to ensure your preaching seasons hit people’s life seasons
— A long term map for your team and your own research.
— A tool to help you and your team develop strong creative content, stories and structures for each sermon.
The longer the marinade time, the better the taste
If you know, for example, that in 6 months you’re preaching on the “One Thing” statements in the New Testament, (“one thing I must do, one thing I ask of you, one thing you know” etc) then you have that much extra time to let ideas marinate and capture them. If you use God’s gift to idea capturing you can set up a file “One Thing” for any stories, ideas, Scriptures, songs, videos etc, so when it is time to flesh out the series into actual sermons, you already have plenty of content. Like most creative endeavors, many ideas end up on the cutting floor, but its better than blank screen syndrome – the nemesis of every preacher and artist.
The most common objection to a 12 month calendar is “the leading of the Holy Spirit.” Many preachers count on God leading them starting Monday. But perhaps God would prefer to sit through a sermon that you’ve been pondering for months, not days. I know your people would.