We’ve all done it; it’s Friday or Saturday, and you need a message for the weekend. As communicators, the biggest challenge we face is creating relevant and creative messages 52 weeks a year. And sometimes the inspiration or preparation is lacking.
Chances are you pulled it off, but how amazing would it feel to get ahead— to know what you were going to preach in 2 weeks, 6 weeks, or 6 months? What if you were able to be strategic about what you communicated and when you communicated it? What if you took Sundays off at the right times, and preached your best sermons on your biggest weekends? It’s possible!
I started using a preaching calendar in 2013 after years of frustration trying to create fresh content. We have fine-tuned our schedule and strategy over the years, and now it’s one our best tools for planning impactful services. I’ve downloaded a lot of other preaching calendars, and they all were helpful in different ways, but over the years I’ve found I really just needed a simple one-page spreadsheet to help me plan.
I’ve provided a free 2019 Preaching Calendar download at the end of this blog, but first, let me tell you why you should use one.
Using a preaching calendar has allowed me to do 4 things:
1. Preach a thematic calendar
That’s just a fancy way of saying I’m able to plan the topics I want to preach at the most strategic times. Don’t overthink it. January = Fresh starts, February/March = Relationships, April = Gospel, etc. Themes don’t have to be based on holidays; maybe you want to launch a church initiative, using a calendar would allow you to be strategic about the content you present before and after the initiative. A preaching calendar helps you think “seasons” instead of weeks.
2. Plan for rest
As I put together our preaching calendar the first thing I do is mark the weekends with the most potential impact. The second thing I do is mark the weeks I will not preach. There are several factors to why I don’t preach on a particular Sunday: high vacation season/low attendance, the conclusion of a series, a vacation with my family, just to name a few. By using a preaching calendar I know before the year starts what Sundays I will have off, and my goal is to have 10-16 Sundays off per year. I will still be in attendance most of those days or preach at another church, but I can be strategic about when and why by looking at the year as a whole instead of week to week.
3. Share the Platform
If I know when I’m preaching what I’m preaching, and why I’m preaching it, it’s much easier for me to decide the most strategic times to platform other communicators on my team. For example, by using a calendar and knowing all the holidays (major and minor) in advance, I know specific Sundays I won’t be speaking. With that knowledge, I can inform my team member months in advance, and they can know what sermons are being preached before and after them. They appreciate having extra time to prepare.
4. Collect research and stories
This is probably my favorite benefit of using a preaching calendar. Since I know the general topics I will be preaching over the upcoming months my antenna is up for any articles, videos, or stories that relate to my sermon. I keep an Evernote folder on my computer called “Stories/Illustrations, ” and when I find anything that could be helpful I save it to that folder with tags. Also, while I’m reading a book, I underline anything that could potentially be helpful, and after I finish the book, a volunteer in my church types the notes into Evernote for me. As I get closer to the sermon and begin to construct it, I have a lot of valuable resources to help me build a solid sermon with some extra elements.
Download a preaching calendar and sit down with your team, or just yourself, and think through all 52 weekends of 2019. Figure out the best way to communicate for the most impact throughout the year.
I have provided a one-page preaching calendar template I use so you can see the way we layout our year, but this is merely an example. Use your preaching calendar, however, meets the needs of your church best. You will find all the major holidays and events that affect Sundays. We’ve also broken up the year into a few different segments where the year has natural breaks. These are great times to start a new series. I encourage you to use this document and create more “breaks” of your own each time you start or stop a new series. Plan 2 or 3 big outreach series, plan a vision series, plan a money series, plan 2 spiritual disciplines series. The Holy Spirit can still inspire and guide your sermons; planning has never offended Him. Get ahead and enjoy your Saturdays.
Be sure to read, “5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of A Yearly Preaching Calendar” to get the maximum impact for your church.