Why have a preaching calendar?
A preaching calendar, a plan for what you are going to preach and when, benefits both the church and the pastor. Because I will spend most of my year in a book of the Bible, or a series of connected sermons the calendar helps me stay focused on what is right in front of me. By taking the time to pray and prepare, I can focus weekly on the execution of the plan.
How far out am I scheduled in my sermon prep?
I stay 6-9 months ahead in my preaching calendar. There are times where I will be 12 or more months ahead because of anticipated sermon series and longer books of scripture, but, generally speaking, I don’t go past nine months. There is so much that will happen in the course of 9 months in the church, our community, and the culture. I prefer to leave flexibility for responding to major church issues, cultural issues, and community concerns as needed in the year. After taking a few Sunday’s off, having other staff members preach, and changing the plan as needed, nine months will typically take me further than anticipated.
How do you decide when to change the plan?
The spiritual answer is when the Holy Spirit leads, and I believe this to be true. Practically I will change the plan to lengthen a series if needed. Other times I realize that I have divided a passage up too much, and I condense two sermons into one. Throughout the year, an issue will take hold of our congregation, and I will address it from scripture, thus adjusting the plan. For instance, after the Supreme Court ruling on homosexual marriage I preached a sermon on God’s design for marriage and our commitment to His design. Situations like this happen, and the Lord will often lead me to respond by adjusting the plan.
How does the plan benefit worship planning?
Worship planning is easier when our team knows months in advance what is coming. They can think through, pray through, and practice songs that carry the theme of the passage & sermon throughout the whole service. The congregation often remarks how surprised they are that the songs match the sermon each week. Even though the sermons are calendared months in advance, God still is the one aligning the songs and the sermons as we prepare. He is also the one moving and transforming lives through worship and preaching! The plan helps, but it doesn’t replace the Holy Spirit, it is just part of the process involved in following the Holy Spirit’s lead.
How do other preachers factor into the planning process?
Because there are other pastors on staff, I don’t preach every Sunday of the year. There are times when I will assign a passage to our pastors as a part of the sermon series, and there are times when they preach whatever the Lord leads. I preach most Sunday’s, but I want our other pastors involved in the leading of the congregation through preaching.
One way that unity in our direction and focus happens is through weekly staff meetings. When we meet, I share the sermon passage and a general direction the sermon is going. I discuss with our team their thoughts and perspectives on the passage and often use their input in the sermon.
When do you take a Sunday off, and why?
I attempt to vacation when the majority of our congregation takes a vacation. Holiday weekends are a great time to be away with my family. I am less worried about missing the Sunday because I know that many of our church family are away with their families as well. I want to maximize both my vacation and my preaching schedule.
I take at least 3 Sundays off a year for vacation, and I will also be present and not preach at least 3-5 more times a year. I am working to increase the preaching of our other pastors each year to model diversity and parity to the church. God has given each member of our team a common call and gifted them appropriately for the task. By utilizing multiple preachers in the year, it illustrates the truth that there are many members, but one body (1 Corinthians 12).