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How to Effectively Plan a Year of Preaching

We all have natural tendencies in our preaching. These questions ensure our calendar is balanced. On my own, I would rarely preach from the Old Testament. I’m a New Testament guy. But the balance question forces me to a place I wouldn’t naturally go. I’m preaching a series on the life of Abraham in 2018. Without these questions, I might have reverted back to my New Testament wheelhouse. With these questions, it positions me to preach the whole counsel of God, not just my favorite parts.

4. Preach less often.

When you plan a year in advance, it provides ample opportunity to plan your time OUT of the pulpit. Most preachers preach way too often. I have friends who preach 50 Sundays a year. Some even have added responsibilities, like preaching Sunday nights or leading a Wednesday night Bible study.

Remember when Moses was trying to lead the nation of Israel by himself? His father-in-law got up in his grill and told him, “What you are doing is not good” (Exodus 18:17). Moses needed to delegate responsibility or he was going to flame out.

We’re not better than Moses. We can’t carry the load of leadership by ourselves, either. And make no mistake about it…preaching is leadership. We must learn to delegate the leadership of preaching if we’re going to stay in the game for the long haul.

Our people need this, too. The people in my church need to hear voices other than mine. Different voices bring different perspectives. They help us see the truth of the Word in a fresh, new way.

Gavin Adams wisely said, “My goal as a Lead Pastor is not to preach, but to ensure our church gets the best content—engaging and helpful—every week. I’m the Lead Pastor, not the Lead Preacher. There’s a difference.”

I want my people to receive the best content every week. That means they need to hear other voices in addition to mine.

There are preachers who kick against this, but sometimes their motives aren’t exactly pure. Some pushback with arrogance, believing they alone can preach effectively in their church. Others balk at this because of their insecurity. “What if someone else preaches, and they’re better than me? Gasp!”

We need to get over ourselves. We need to put the needs of our people first. They need to hear a variety of voices, not just one.

5. Take the long view.

When our sermon planning is finished, I step back and look at the calendar filled with Post-It notes. It excites me and it gives me hope.

One of the worst things pastors can do is live week to week. Many preachers write their sermon on Saturday, preach it on Sunday, and then leave feeling miserable because they know they’ve got to come up with something to preach the following Sunday.

Planning ahead means you never have to write a “Saturday night special.” (Those messages are terrible, anyway.) It allows you to get further ahead, not just with sermon planning, but in actual sermon writing. I write messages two months in advance. My goal is to get even further ahead than that.

I never walk out of church wondering what I’ll preach next Sunday. I always know. That takes a ton of pressure off.

Here’s a glimpse of my normal week of sermon prep.

Monday – I pull out the message I wrote two months earlier. I edit it, create my slide presentation, and get the message fresh in my mind again.

Tuesday – Meetings, administration. No sermon work.

Wednesday – I write a different message, one that I’ll preach in two months.

Thursday – I circle back to the message for the coming Sunday. I preach it out loud a few times, make my final tweaks, and send it off to our team. I don’t touch that message again until Sunday morning. No more stressful Saturdays. No more disappointing Sundays.

Preaching and Preparation

Paul told a young preacher named Timothy, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

As preachers, we get psyched up when we read, “Preach the word.” That’s what we live for! But look at what Paul says next: “Be prepared.” Paul links preaching and preparation because they are inseparable. Preaching well means preparing well.

I lived in the mess and stress of disorganization and poor planning far too long. I’m never going back there again. I hope you won’t, either.

Prepare well, so you can preach well.

This article originally appeared here.

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Mike is the Senior Pastor of Connect Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can connect with him on Twitter @MikeEdmisten.