preaching calendar

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? 

5 Steps to Preaching Like a Pro

“The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits.”
– Steven Pressfield

There is nothing wrong with someone being an amateur communicator, but I'm sure your not satisfied with being that yourself. An amateur communicator is okay with being just as good as when they started, or just as good as they became in that first burst of improvement. They have no real reason to get past that point. If you are going to take this role seriously and develop as a professional communicator we need to put a stake in the ground and put a plan in place that will move you from where you are to where you want to be next year.  

In order to get started on this journey of professional communication we need to break communicating into 5 phases. Each phase will exist to provide the structure for the next to lean on. Each has its place, and each will require you to master it or delegate it, but each must always be improving.

The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits.
— Steven Pressfield

These 5 steps or phases become a habits that push you toward more effective preaching. The trick is to break them into these separate manageable phases. This allows you to spend more focused time without having to go back to redo your work. 

Phase 1 - Calendaring

You've got 52 weeks of sermons coming up. What are you going to talk about? What issues need to be covered this year? What topics need to be covered every year? (See "You Are About To Create A Killer Teaching Series [From Scratch]" )

Phase 2 - Preparation

What does scripture say? What does your audience need to know?  This is the phase where you will unpack what your specific audience needs to hear as it relates to the topic/scripture. This phase is what separates the men from the boys. It takes some hard work, but this is where the great messages come from. (See "The Most Under Recognized Ingredient in a Powerful Message")

Phase 3 - Writing

The writing phase is the detail phase. It’s where a painter begins to add texture. Where the designer adds his detail. It’s where you organize your thoughts into a coherent and dynamic message. (See "Please Stop Talking, My Brain Is Full")

Phase 4 - Delivery

The delivery phase is all you! It’s where you take the stage. All eyes and ears wait in anticipation. It’s where all your work presents itself to the world. This is what people are waiting for, whether they know it or not.  

Phase 5 - Follow Through

Professional communicators know that the jobs not done when you leave the stage. They know that the real change happens once the message is over. And if you are going to get better as a communicator you’re going to need to get comfortable with follow through.

Mini Cycle

As an amateur you spent your time on phase 3 & 4. You would write your talk and deliver it. Then you would sit down and write your next talk. You would practice it and then deliver it, but this mini cycle just repeated itself. And it was hard work. It’s not as if these were your only responsibilities. Not many of us are fortunate to be paid just to teach for 30 minutes a week. There were many tasks on your plate.  And it’s likely that this hasn’t changed over the years. We wear many hat’s and speaking is only one of them.

Finding time to work on phase 1, 2 and 5 takes a sizable amount of ongoing effort, but it makes you a lot more effective. 

Question: Which phase do you enjoy the most?