calendaring

Is Your Preaching Calendar Helping or Hurting?

52 weeks of sermons. Does that seem daunting? Maybe, maybe not. We’ve got a lot of material we could cover. It shouldn’t be that hard to fill the time. You’ve been doing that for years.

52 weeks of life changing, vision casting, church growing, awe inspiring sermons. Okay, now my palms are starting to sweat.

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If you’re like most pastor’s you have a plan. You already have a system for thinking ahead and most likely already have an Annual Preaching Calendar.

But is that preaching calendar helping or hurting?

Is your preaching calendar helping or hurting?
— Steven J Barker

When it comes to building a preaching calendar, most standard advice focuses on balance.

Balancing content. Ensuring that you have some doctrinal series, some ethical series, and maybe some relational teaching as well. Not to mention balancing content between the New and Old Testament. Keeping your content fresh by balancing content types is important, but it’s not most important.

Balancing tone. It would not be very helpful if all we ever did was comfort our audience with the hope we find in Christ. At the same time it would be exhausting to spend a year only challenging people on their shortcomings. Sure, balancing the emotional tone from one series to the next is important, but it’s not most important.

Balancing style. There are many different approaches we can take to teaching.  One could address an entire book of the Bible and then in the next series into a character study of Moses or David. You could even follow those with a biblical look at parenting. Engaging a broad range of learning preferences is important, but it’s not most important.

Balance can't the primary objective for our preaching calendars, because if it is our primary objective it assumes teaching every seven days is an absolute. Do you think Paul felt that way? Did he write to the early church communities because he was on a set schedule? Not by a long shot. He wrote to help them. He wrote to address the issues they were dealing with. He wrote to cast vision. He wrote to inspire life change. He wrote to grow the church and increase those that were being saved.

So what then is our primary objective?

It’s to help people and to lead our community.

Do this right now: find your church's annual goals. Assuming that your goals are driven by a compelling, community driven, Christ centered vision, what does your church what to accomplish in your community in the next 12 months?

Print them off, set them on your desk.

Now, how can you help energize those goals?

  • What does your community need to understand about God’s character in order to move forward?
  • What’s distracting them? What are they dealing with? What is their life context?
  • If your goal is to launch more campuses, what does your church need to biblically understand in order to move forward?
  • What content, character studies, series tones and styles can help you lead your community?

When you think about your church’s annual goals, they represent your hopes, your dreams and your plans to impact your community. Goals outline our anticipated accomplishments each year, so should our preaching calendars.

Goals outline our anticipated accomplishments each year, so should our preaching calendars.
— Steven J Barker

Sure, your Annual Preaching Calendar needs to be balanced. It needs to stay fresh and engaging, but when it comes to the end of calendar will you be able to look back and say you and your church accomplished something?

What do you want to accomplish with your 52 messages this year? 

Why You Should Cancel Your Next Sunday Service

Last weekend we cancelled our services to take a step out into our community. After a three week series inspired by the "Art of Neighboring" in Denver, CO, we came together across all of our campuses to link arms and get our hands dirty serving our neighbors. We dubbed it "The Good Neighbor Project" and set out on projects all around our community. The question is, was it worth it?

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There were risks involved, everything from financial (giving, project expenses) to the fear that our efforts would be a total flop (last year's work project only brought out a few dozen people). But regardless of the risk...it was worth it, and here's why -- it was tangible!

When we teach on Sundays, you and I are trying to inspire life change. We want people to take next steps in their faith. For some that just means coming back again next week, for others it's deciding they want to live a life lead by faith and for others it means taking action. Doing something different and becoming a new person. 

Whatever that next step is, it is incredibly important that we make that next step tangible. In fact, we need to make sure our next steps are clear, life changing and available. 

Clear - What exactly can your audience do in response to your teaching? 
Life changing - How do those next steps actually change anything? What impact will they have?
Available - It doesn't have to be easy, but it should be available if you really believe it will make a difference. 

So, take some time to look at your teaching calendar. Which series are coming up that could have a clearer next step? Is there something you can do to make those next steps more available? Consider following your next few series with a project, a seminar, or possibly a retreat. Either way, go all in and help your community take next step in their faith...and maybe even consider canceling next week's service.