If you’re a pastor, it’s the time of year we see a lot of resources and how-to guides on putting together an annual preaching calendar. One question you might be asking before downloading the 2017 calendar template or using Ministry Pass’s complete 2017 sermon calendars is, “How does this actually help me?”
Ministry Pass believes developing or downloading a sermon calendar has many benefits for you and your church so here are a few of my favorites to show you:
1. Will help you preach better
It sounds cliche, but preaching from a sermon calendar is going to help you add more thought, prayer and character to your sermons. Imagine knowing you will be preaching about forgiveness in three months instead of three days. Every time you read in the news or in a blog a story about forgiveness you can add that to your series in three months.
The point is, the longer you have to let your sermon series marinate, the more flavor they will have. Every experience until then is something else added to the recipe. Your sermon will be a fine steak and not a sliver of fried spam.
You don’t get this benefit writing your sermons week to week.
2. Makes it easier to add people to your preaching team
The cognitive and leadership skills needed to be a local pastor are taxing to anyone. Having others on your preaching team will not only be a great relief for you, but it also allows other people to step up and lead.
Letting the people on your preaching team know what they will speak about ahead of time will give them the same benefits as in point #1. Getting others involved ahead of time will ensure everyone has ample time to prepare.
3. Avoid preaching on the same topics.
Maybe you can relate to this – if you looked back at all the series your church has done in the previous two years, would you notice that, for example, you’ve done four series on David. They may all have different topics, but twice a year your church has been hearing about David & Goliath in some form or another.
We all love the story of David & Goliath but two series a year is overkill. And, this is a far-too-common scenario for pastors who don’t plan their series ahead of time.
4. Helps you and your team move toward the same goal
A sermon calendar helps YOU in many areas but it also is a tremendous benefit to the people on your TEAM. If your worship leader knows ahead of time what topics and passages you will be speaking on, they can create a setlist that compliment the topics covered that day. If you are preaching on grace, they can plan on adding a few songs about grace in the set.
Knowing ahead of time also allows people to do sermon research for you. You can give your volunteers the passages and topics discussed and they can find videos, stories and illustrations that may add some more color to sermon and series.
5. Lowers anxiety and stress
There’s a pastor who is bi-vocational. He owns an IT business. He is putting his daughters through college, so he works late every night during the week. He begins his sermon prep on Saturday morning and finishes sometime late Saturday night. Sometimes, he works well into the Sunday morning hours. He said sermon preparation stresses him out.
Does preaching stress you out? Do you feel like you can never get ahead? Are you able to take a break and allow others to preach for you, knowing it will be good? Are you still studying for your sermon on Saturdays and giving up precious time with your family?
6. Gives you structured freedom
When trying to win over pastors to an annual sermon prep model, you will often hear the complaint, “Planning a year out feels too restrictive and limits my freedom in sermon choices.” I have found the opposite to be true. Putting some loose constraints on my sermon topics focuses my creativity and saves me from endless topic hunting. Use the time saved to be with your disciples. Instead of scouring the Internet to find topics your people will find interesting, pick topics your people need to hear about, and find ways to make those topics interesting.
When you know what you will be preaching six months out, you can read, write, and collaborate more effectively to produce refined sermons that connect with your congregation.
7. Build momentum throughout the entire year
Most churches experience a momentum and attendance bump early in the fall and the lead up to Easter. There are steep declines post Easter heading into the summer. A sermon calendar can help you be strategic with your series in the summer so you don’t lose all the momentum and growth from Easter.
At Ministry Pass, they fill the summer months with attractional series to help you connect with new people in the community. They have seen churches grow in the summer when most churches see a decline.
8. Provides a yearly roadmap for your church
Church calendars are always filled with events, groups to go to, and activities. Sometimes they are a great thing. Sometimes it’s just another thing on the calendar because that’s what we have always done.
A sermon calendar gives you an opportunity to plan events and activities in alignment with your series. This helps all of your energies as a church work together in every season. There is nothing worse than spending a ton of budget on an event that really doesn’t serve as a bridge to your church.
9. Eliminates last minute sermon writing
Pastors spend more time in sermon preparation every week than the average adult spends time eating their meals. A sermon calendar helps you avoid having to write everything at the last minute. Yes you still have to write your sermon out the week of, but you are much more ahead in the process because of your sermon calendar.
Writing your sermon at the last minute really benefits no one. Your sermon is rushed, is harder to deliver with efficiency and you may have lost spending time with your family on a Saturday because you had to cram for Sunday.
10. Gives room for creativity to blossom
A common thought we learned growing up is, we need to think outside the box in order to be more creative. The opposite is true. Everyone and every church has box. This box represents your boundaries. Your church boundaries could be in the area of budget, volunteers, or staff. A sermon calendar serves as a sort of “box” as well.
The beautiful thing about your box is, once you identify it, you know how to fill it. Having a planned out preaching calendar is incredibly empowering for everyone involved in the creative process. Knowing what’s coming next allows people to flourish in the creative gifts God has given them.
Ministry Pass has created a few FREE resources that will help you get started in your sermon planning. You can download their free 2017 sermon calendar template HERE.
In a few weeks, Ministry Pass is going to be releasing their 2017 sermon calendars with all the sermon and media resources you need to pull off an incredible year of series.