I’ve learned a trick that makes pastors sweat bullets.
It’s Saturday night at 10:30. You have to preach tomorrow morning. And you don’t know what text or topic you’re going to preach.
See? Told you it would make you sweat.
What Are You Gonna Preach Next?
I don’t start planning my sermons the night before. Charles Spurgeon did, but he was a mad homiletical scientist. But I have had moments in the past 15 years where I had no clue what a text said, no strong sense of what I should preach next, no idea how I was going to show up on Sunday to deliver the kind of sermon I believe God wants me to deliver.
The good news is that those moments are few and far between for me. I can’t remember the last time that I sat in my office on a Thursday afternoon wondering what text or topic I was going to tackle next. Actually, I do remember. It was 2006.
How do I know that? Simple. 2006 was the last year I worked without an annual preaching calendar.
The Benefits Of An Annual Preaching Calendar
Since 2007, I’ve used a simple schedule that eliminates the problem of not knowing what I’m going to preach next. During that time, I've discovered a few other benefits from using an annual preaching calendar.
Working ahead to determine what you should preach next year forces to you clearly define the topics, books of the Bible, issues and questions that you believe God wants your church to address.
As you add additional years to your calendar file (our annual calendar is a spreadsheet that uses tabs for individual years), you create an easily accessible reference tool.
Imagine that you want to preach on personal generosity from 2 Corinthians 8:8-9. With a few clicks, you can sort through your calendar and find the last time you preached on generosity or that particular text.
If you have a preaching team, your calendar is an invaluable reference to keep up with who is preaching on a particular date. It also helps schedule around vacations or sabbaticals.
We recently noticed that one of the men on our team had preached on a particular topic repeatedly over the past few months. So we nicknamed him, 'Mr. [Topic]', and adjusted to make sure that he was focused on different areas in upcoming sermons. This was good for him because it stretched him as a learner and it was good for our church because when we address that topic in the future, no one will be able to think this is one person's particular hobby-horse.
In a recent interview that I conducted with Pastor Leonce Crump as part of our Preach Better Sermons online program, he said that his church uses their calendar as home base for all of their ministry planning.
For groups, children's ministry, men's and women's ministry - every aspect of discipleship in your church - you can build a content strategy using your annual calendar that goes beyond the sermon and helps people in your church take a next step in following Jesus.
Want Help With Your Annual Calendar?
If you're ready to build an annual preaching calendar, I can save you a ton of time and head-scratching with my FREE resource, 'How To Build An Annual Preaching Calendar'.
Not only will you get a customizable annual calendar template, I also shot a short video that walks you step-by-step through the exact process you need to follow to build the calendar you need.
This is information that others have paid me hundreds of dollars to get access, but it's yours absolutely free.
Sound good to you? Cool.