Developing a Preaching Calendar
Every pastor should have a preaching calendar, outlining in broad strokes what he plans to teach during a year or season in the life of his church. A calendar benefits the church staff and lay leadership, who must plan various emphases and ministries, often around and in conjunction with the Pastors’ teaching schedule. More than that, a calendar benefits the Pastor himself by simplifying the planning and preparation for teaching each and every week. A Pastor who knows where his teaching is going in the coming months can more easily study and craft his messages in advance, and allow time to think through and pray through his teaching year-round.
Seasons of preaching. Preaching often follows seasons in the life of the church or of the Pastor and his family. When mapping out your preaching, start with a blank, one-year calendar. Think about the various seasons of ministry and life. Look at key moments in the year like Christmas, Easter, summer break, fall football season. How can your preaching maximize each of these? Where will church attendance be strongest? When will you have the best opportunities to draw in new guests? When would be the best time for a more discipleship-oriented message?
Series and Standalones. Next there is the question of series teaching versus standalone teaching. Some messages are naturally standalones—like Thanksgiving Sunday, for instance. Other points in the year lend themselves to a message series. Or you may choose to preach through a Bible book for an extended period of time.
Write it down—with gaps. So take that calendar, and write down your various series and standalones on it—in pencil, of course. Be sure to give yourself a break or two. Mapping out 52 weeks straight with your name in the pulpit is a sure way to burnout.
How far in advance? A pastor who is always preparing his message the week he delivers it will live with his preaching as a constant stress. There is no substitute for advanced preparation—you simply must prepare your messages several weeks in advance. Three to four weeks is typical. So this week, you want to be preparing for a message you’ll teach next month. Then, toward the end of this week, you’ll review the message for this Sunday that you wrote last month. Reviewing is much less stressful the week-of than writing.
Sharing with others. Share your preaching calendar with your church leadership. Your music team should know where you are headed. Your deacons or elders can be praying for you if they know what you are planning and studying. Your youth and children’s team will have opportunities to piggy-back their programming on your messages if they know them in advance. A preaching calendar is for your planning, but it is for everyone else’s sanity and support.
Room to adjust. A preaching calendar is not a monument chiseled in stone. There’s always room to adjust when circumstances arise. Maybe you need to extend a series to cover something that came up in your studies. Perhaps a major world event deserves a sermon to put it in biblical perspective (did anyone not preach on the terrorist attacks on Sunday, September 16, 2001?). Having a calendar makes adjusting easier on you and on your whole ministry team.
Author: Eugene Mason, Communications Director for Cross Pointe Church under the leadership of Dr. James Merritt.