PLANNING A PREACHING CALENDAR (WEEK 10)
A. Why invest time in planning a preaching calendar?
A word I felt I received, I think says it best; the word was, “build the gutters and I will send the rain!”
Several things a preaching plan can do for you
1. It gives you more time to think about the message and get feedback and ideas for the message. It is more effective to spread out the length of time for your preparation rather than cramming all your study in one week. A longer runway allows you to go deeper and hear more from God.
2. You can involve the preparation teams. Having a research and creative team involved in the process opens all kinds of possibilities.
a. You can train future preachers by letting them be involved and help you bring messages to fruition.
b. You can get a broader study range.
c. You can have more creative options. For example: you can find worship songs or special songs that can add to the presentation. You can find YouTube clips, identify object lessons, decorate the stage with props that add flavor to the presentation.
You have time to research: read books and have others read books, not just blogs.
3. One of the great things I find about a longer runway is that messages grow inside of me as I “marinade on a truth.”
4. You can tie your messages more to other strategic aspects of leading the church. Your Sunday preaching plan is key to how you lead the church in its discipleship journey. Planning your preaching allows you to consider things like how balanced of a spiritual diet is the church getting? Am I preaching the whole counsel of God? Am I preaching all challenge and no comfort, or all comfort and no challenge?
B. Sermon planning is key to coordinating the overall church calendar and moving the church smoothly along a strategic path. Our goal is to move people along a path of full discipleship. One of the things we like to look at are the concentric circles of commitment. Our circles of commitment are: community-crowd-congregation-committed-core.
As I preach, I want to address people at the different levels along their journey. In addition, we want to tie into the message the strategic emphasis that we want to involve people in.
Some examples (for both the annual calendar and the preaching plan)
1. People getting water baptized.
2. People being introduced to the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
3. People joining a life group.
4. People committing to spiritual disciplines such as prayer and a Bible reading plan.
5. People being stewards of their resources.
6. Getting people on mission with our dream teams and Love Las Cruces to Life.
7. Marriage emphasis.
8. Parenting and our overall plan to guide our children towards their key next step as followers of Jesus.
9. Helping people get freedom through things like Celebrate Recovery.
10. Involving people, who are new in the faith to strategic steps like Alpha or a Fresh Start class.
11. People exploring a mission trip, joining a church planting team or campus.
12. Helping people understand key parts of the Bible (Advent, The Cross, and Resurrection, The New Testament Church).
II. Key steps in planning
A. Letting Jesus be at the center. Planning should always be done:
“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3 NLT)
“We make our plans but God has the last word.” (Proverbs 16:1 GN)
3. As a team if possible.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Prov. 15:22 NIV)
B. Where to start:
Jesus gave 90% of his teaching as answers to questions or to addressing specific needs. We know that the purpose of prophesy/preaching is centered around strengthening, comfort, and encouragement. In the Bible, God revealed Himself according to people’s needs. He is Jehovah Jireh, for example, because people need provision.
Look at three things as you consider your preaching plan
1. People’s needs-problems, stresses, and challenges.
2. People’s hurts.
3. People’s questions and special interests. What issues are they wrestling with? How can we help them give answers to the pressing questions of their lives?
C. Surveys and interviews can be very helpful. Surveys also give an opportunity for you to find and ask for testimonies that can be used in the teaching plan. In addition to getting people’s input, it is very helpful if the leadership team seeks to understand the critical issues of discipleship. I like to think of this process as being something the Apostle Paul might have gone through as he was preparing to write one of his Epistles to a church.
Some good questions
1. God says His people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). What critical knowledge seems to be missing?
2. What are perspectives, character qualities, or convictions that really need reinforcement?
3. Where does it seem people are getting stuck on their discipleship journey?
4. What is happening in our culture right now that needs to be addressed? What cultural lies or myths does the enemy seem to be especially trying to use to weaken believers?
5. What areas of the Bible are people ignorant and need our help to get more understanding?
III. Ways to put the calendar together.
A. Personal time listening and waiting on God.
What are some things that are coming to you during your personal Bible study? I think it is important for a leader to have a through the Bible reading plan because God often speaks as the leader is going through the Word and repeatedly confirms things that have relevance to what the Spirit is saying to the church.
B. Have a bucket file. Have a place you write down topics that come to mind. It can be a great help as you begin to get a sense of a needed topic to file. I will often take things out of my journal and put them in this file, also as I am reading and listening to messages.
C. Have a time to plan for next year. Do surveys and set aside a few days for planning. One idea is to plan a sermon planning retreat.
1. Set aside a date.
2. Invite people who can help give you good input (creative team, other teachers/pastors, sermon research people, elders, a few people who would have a different perspective-men/women, other generations/cultures).
3. Do the preliminary work including a survey. Ahead of time, send the team your research and thoughts for their prayer and consideration.
4. Get away. “Breakthrough often comes through a change of pace and a change of place.” -Mark Batterson.
5. Have some dates from the calendar on display to consider in the meeting.
6. Start big. I would start with a category of sermon series.
7. “Flesh it out” into topics under the bigger categories.