An Essential Part of Planning Your Preaching

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-pulpit-view-2-image1432660I am a proponent of planning your preaching.

I plan out my preaching a year in advance.  And I urge other preachers to do the same. But any plan is better than no plan. It may be a plan for the coming quarter or month. Or maybe for the next two weeks. Anything beats the pressure of looking for something to preach each week.

There are multiple benefits to developing a preaching plan. It saves time. It relieves stress. It allows you to work ahead. It enables you to be intentional about the diet you feed your congregation. And it gives you the opportunity to collect resources for effective preparation.

But there is another reason for planning your preaching that may be most important: A preaching calendar helps you to plan when you are not going to preach.

In the first church I served, I had scheduled times when I was not to preach. For instance, I had the month of August off. I rarely sat it out for the month. But the freedom to pick several weeks when I was not in the pulpit was refreshing. I have not been as good about this in my present assignment. Both the congregation and I have suffered for it.

It is not preaching that so drains preachers. It is the sermon preparation process. Sermons don’t grow on trees. If you take your preaching seriously, it will cost you labor in the study. It is like preparing a term paper for every sermon and giving an oral presentation of it. That joyful burden grows if you preach multiples times each week. And it doesn’t include the other personal and ministerial responsibilities the pastor-teacher has each week.

The preacher’s health – both physically and spiritually – requires that he break the routine at intervals. A bow that is always bent will soon break. Muscles grow through a cycle of exercise and rest. If you burn the candle at both ends, you are not very bright.

In a recent conversation with several pastors, one mentioned that he has an agreement with his congregation to preach forty weeks a year. That’s a good plan. But not every pastor can get away with being out of the pulpit that much. Others may not want to. You must determine what is a reasonable amount of time for you to be out of the pulpit.

These planned breaks are not just for the preacher. Your congregation needs a break from you, too. If your church is nurturing young preachers, they need opportunities to preach. It is also beneficial for your congregation to occasionally hear invited guests. If your congregation cannot or will not listen to anyone but you, it is a cult of personality, not a church.

I hope you will seriously consider planning your preaching. As you do so, don’t forget to plan not to preach. Pastoral ministry is a marathon, not a sprint Pace yourself for the long haul. Stay in the race. And finish strong.

How do you schedule your preaching? Do you plan no to preach? What advice would you give on this subject? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • EdwardLee9

    I am in the planting phase of a new church. I am planning to preach sermon series based on monthly themes. Wondering, do you think that is too frequent to change themes? – I.e. March focus on Marriage, April focus on the Cross.

  • Doug

    Very interesting. Could you provide some advice on how to plan sermons? Or, could you describe how you go about the process of planning your sermons?

  • Rev McDaniel

    I been on both ends and seen the good and the bad of it..1st of all it’s good for the pastor to take a break so he can access his strengths and his weaknesses. Then he can gauge the congregation and see where they are while an associate is preaching in his presence, so that when he’s absent the associate will have the respect of the congregation.. 2ndly he can use that time to grow his associates rather than have them sit like benchwarmers or be his spiritual cheerleaders..

    • http://www.hbcharlesjr.com/ H.B. Charles Jr.

      I agree.

  • Wendell

    I can see the benefits of planning your preaching but I just have one question: is there a way to address issues that may come up that could affect the congregation? Or is the pulpit not the place for that?

    • http://www.hbcharlesjr.com/ H.B. Charles Jr.

      Wendell, I think it is wise to plan your preaching. But we must give the Lord freedom to interrupt our plans. I have a plan. But if there is something else I think I should preach, I do it. Then I get back to my plan. I do this sparingly. But when i sense there is something I should address, I do it.

  • RevLuckett

    I too am in my first pastorate and I have found that planning my preaching has helped tremendously. I planned the first 6 months, and now I need to plan the remainder of the year. I’m currently taking my exam for my Bachlor’s in church ministry.

    • http://www.hbcharlesjr.com/ H.B. Charles Jr.

      The Lord be with you.

  • Robert Mills

    I am in my first Pastoral Assignment. And one of the things that I have been really working to do was plan my preaching. I gave the congregation a theme that we would work toward for the remak der of the year, and all of my sermons and lessons have been gesred towards that theme. I have been working on staying ahead planning ahead on both sermons and lessons, all while maintaining a seminary class schedule. Would you happen to have any tips for New Pastor attempting to do just what you said, planning and preparing ahead of time?