About twice a year, I set aside a few days in the week to plan my preaching calendar for the year. In addition to strategic planning, intentional long-term preaching planning provides many benefits for the church and the pastor.
First, it assures that a pastor is rightly dividing the Word of God with balance and providing God’s people with the whole counsel of His Word. Pastors have a natural tendency to preach on their favorite topics/passages and avoid more difficult and less interesting topics/passages, especially when they are pressed for preparation time. Long-term planning takes some of the anxiety of weekly preparation away. If a pastor knows he is going to be preaching on certain sections of the book of Genesis or on the topic of prayer at some point in the year, they can make strategic decisions regarding their study and preparation long before the week of the sermon. Pastors need to preach from all of Scripture. I know that there are some pastors (even popular ones) that only preach or primarily preach from the New Testament, and I think their people are malnourished. To neglect 2/3 of the God’s Word is pastoral malpractice. Planning helps us move past this issue and feed our people the riches of God’s Word.
Second, the pastor is biblically stretched. In other words, they are confronted with the need to preach from all the God-breathed scriptures and to keep up a reasonable pace of exposition. Pastor, receive this when I say it, you are not Martyn-Lloyd Jones or John Piper. There is no reason for you to take 7 years to preach through the book of Hebrews or 13 years to preach through the book of Romans. For all the talk about authorial intention, I am pretty sure that Paul did not intend for his audiences to take years to read his letters. To be sure, I know that each letter is contextually situated and needs to be studied and exposited in its original context. However, I fear that our people can lose not only the message of the passage when we take too long to explain it, but also a sense of the authority of the text itself in light of our “deep” historical reconstructions of the exact setting of the passage. Please do not hear me as saying that studying the background of the passage is not important. It is very important. But your people have not gathered together on a Sunday morning to hear about theories pertaining to northern Galatia or southern Galatia. They have gathered to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. By planning your preaching, I believe you can keep pace with the progression of the passage/topic and help your people get the big picture.
Third, by planning your preaching, you can be more strategic in your discipleship and outreach efforts. For example, in 2017, God willing, we will start the year in the book of Galatians and will finish right before Easter. My goal is to have big outreach emphasis for our Easter Sunday service. The Sunday immediately following our Easter service, we will begin a new four-week series on Life’s Big Questions in conjunction with sermon-based small group meetings in the evening. Our goal is to capitalize on the high attendance of Easter Sunday by plugging people into small groups that immediately address some of the greatest questions they are facing from a biblical worldview. By starting the years in the book of Galatians, our church will have the glory of the gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ alone fresh on their minds. We will be inviting people to church with confidence in the gospel. Our guests will show up at an immediate point of connection in our church life. Without establishing and maintaining preaching calendar, it is more difficult (if not, impossible) to coordinate the pastor’s preaching efforts with the overarching strategy of the church.
Finally, by planning your preaching, you can coordinate church goals with your preaching plan. So for instance, if one of your church goals (assuming that you make short-term and long-term goals for your church) is to engage in more disciplemaking efforts throughout the course of the year, you can plan to engage that goal in your preaching from different portions of scripture. Obviously, this requires your church goals to actually be biblical goals, lest you simply impose your goals on the text. Yet, there is a place for God-honoring ambition in the life of the church. If Paul was ambitious to go to Spain to preach the gospel and made plans accordingly, then surely we should have and express our ambitions in the form of goals, then plan accordingly. My point here is that one aspect of that planning should be our preaching.
While there are multiple other benefits to planning, my hope is that above mentioned reasons will be enough to encourage you to set aside some time now and plan your preaching in 2017.
If you are wondering how to plan your preaching or simply looking for some counsel on how to improve your preaching, be sure to click these book images and take a look at these specific works. I have read all three titles and encourage every pastor to read them.
In Christ Alone,