The first of December serves as an annual treat of mine. At this time I systematically schedule a full years worth of sermons. The task is both exhilarating and painstaking, but I cannot emphasis enough of how crucial it is to me and my preaching ministry. In this and in the next post I want to share my thoughts on the why and the how of planning our preaching.
First the why.
1. Planning Our Preaching Allows Us to Plan Our Sermons
Every pastor is constantly thinking of and looking for good illustrations, direct applications, and resources for study. By knowing beforehand what we will be preaching, we can know exactly what we are looking for. If I know that I will be preaching from John 3 next July, I can now begin investing in resources and spend seven months meditating on applications and illustrations. This inevitably makes for better sermons and less stressful sermon prep.
2. Planning Allows for Greater Creativity
In addition to memorable illustrations and the accumulation of great resources for our preaching, sitting down in advance and thinking of the direction of our sermons is important. Take Christmas for example. Do I simply want to do two to four sermons at the end of the year from Matthew, Luke, or both or do I want to do something more creative? What about a three part series on prophecies of the incarnation or a short series on the person of Christ as evidenced in the incarnation? This applies to all series and sermons we do. We must think ahead of what we want to accomplish in that sermon series on Colossians or how long it will take to cover the Prayers of Jesus. Being creative will allow our sermons to be more engaging.
3. Planning Our Preaching Makes Life Easier
I can’t imagine the stress of coming home from Sunday without a clue as to what I was going to preach the next week. I am not gifted nor creative enough to do weekly topical sermons. Planning my preaching removes such unnecessary stress and worry. I know exactly what I am preaching the following week and can focus on that text for an entire week instead of rushing through it at the last minute.
4. Planning Allows Us to Better Serve Our Congregations
Every year I look back at where our church was and reflect on what God has done. At the same time, I pray for God to disciple us in specific areas and to lead me in such a way that will allow me to shepherd the flock. Planning our preaching is a large part of this. A few years ago I was convicted of our church’s need to understand ecclesiology and thus I planned ahead a series on the church. Another year I was convinced we needed to return to the cross and so did a series of sermons on the atonement.
In short, a pastor that casts yearly visions must also plan his preaching at least a year in advance.
5. Planning Our Preaching Requires Discipline
Although we must be flexible in our preaching (at times I have postponed sermon series to later years), knowing that we prayed over our sermons in advance requires us to stick with them. This allows for a healthier spiritual diet. A major problem with weekly topical sermons is the tendency to turn the pulpit into a soapbox. Expository preaching, which dominates my pulpit ministry, forces me to feed the flock from the entirety of God’s Word. This requires me to grow in areas I would rather ignore. Last yaer’s series on the book of Joel was difficult but a real blessing to me. Planning ahead allows the pastor to provide his flock with variety while meeting their spiritual needs.
Preparing and delivering sermons is stressful enough, but it is the primary roll of the pastor. Therefore, every pastor should take their responsibility more seriously. If we love the church, we will love them through the means of preaching. Planning our preaching is a key way to do that.
Next week we will discuss the mechanics of planning our preaching.