6. There is no perfect preaching calendar.
In 2001, I developed the perfect preaching calendar. Then 9/11 hit. I was scheduled to speak on spiritual gifts. Like every preacher, I changed my subject that week. I spoke on destiny, then three weeks on Islam, and concluded with a Christmas series called The Prince of Peace. To have a perfect preaching calendar, you need a perfect preacher. The only one I know returned to heaven many years ago. So we pray, plan and re-evaluate when a crisis hits, but don’t expect perfection. It only leads to frustration.
7. Choose your series nine to 12 months ahead of time, put work into it two to three months ahead of time.
By Christmas, we have our September campaign on the schedule. In May, we’ll make sure we have its materials chosen and ordered (or written). In June, we recruit small group leaders. In July, we prepare graphics. In August, we beginning small group enrollment. Great series don’t happen because of six to 10 days of preparation; they happen because of six to 10 months of preparation. Nine months ago we decided to do a history series called Continuum. We wanted it to be highly experiential. Last week we turned our auditorium into a map. I’m walking from section to section, recounting what happened where. This requires signs, props and a spotlight. To pull all this off, we secured the spotlight three months ago, enlisted volunteers to create the props three weeks ago, and are having a ball, because we prepared in advance.
Ignatius Loyola said, “Work as if it all depends on you, and pray as if it all depends on God.”
That’s good advice! Fortunately, it doesn’t all depend on you. But God is depending on you to do your part in his partnership miracle of bringing words to life.
You won’t be able to sink a thousand hours into every sermon series. However, investing a few hours a year in advance, a few more hours three months in advance, and a few more hours a few weeks in advance will increase the quality of your preaching moment. I think God would be honored by that, and I know from experience that you will feel better about it too.