Pastors are called to do many things. Lead. Feed. Know. Protect. Correct. Counsel. The list goes on and on. But, the primary task of a pastor is to preach. It is through this primary ministry of the word a pastor shepherds his people. So, should a pastor plan what he will preach ahead of time? Should he plan just a few days in advance so he can respond to his Bible in one hand and his newspaper in the other, as Karl Barth encourages us to do? Or, should he plan what he will preach a year in advance by developing a preaching calendar?
Reasons Why You Should Use a Preaching Calendar
I am convinced that every pastoral team should plan a preaching calendar every year. Let me share seven reasons you should consider utilizing a preaching calendar.
Reason #1: To be strategic in your preaching
When you plan a preaching calendar, you can preach strategically. Do you always have a lot of unbelievers on a certain holiday? If so, make sure it is a particularly evangelistic sermon. Is there a season where it is mostly just your people? If so, then do a deeper series to help them grow doctrinally. A preaching calendar helps you respond to the natural ebbs and flows of your church’s calendar.
Reason #2: To give your people a balanced diet
Pastor, you are called to feed Christ’s sheep. You can’t always give them steak and potatoes (though that does sound delicious). Your people need a balanced diet of the whole council of God through the lens of the gospel (Luke 24:27). This means preaching the Old and New Testament, different doctrines, different genres of Scripture, shorter and longer books of the Bible, and different authors. A preaching calendar allows you to ensure your people aren’t always eating the same meal for the entire year.
Reason #3: To accomplish the mission of your church
Every gospel preaching church has the mission from Jesus himself: to make disciples and plant churches (Matthew 28:18-20). From that mission, your church might have a more contextualized mission for your people in your city. Are you actually accomplishing your mission? Planning a preaching calendar allows you to preemptively ask if you are accomplishing the mission of your church. If you aren’t, then prayerfully change what you will preach over the next year.
Reason #4: To rely on the Spirit
One of the most common reasons pastors don’t plan a preaching calendar is because they want to rely on the Holy Spirit. I get that! Sometimes you think you should preach on one thing and the Spirit completely changes your direction the last minute. I think that’s exactly what we see in Jude 3. But Jude 3 also shows us that Paul had something else in mind beforehand. He had a plan beforehand. Pastor, why can’t the all-knowing, sovereign Spirit not guide you a year before you preach? Does he only guide you 48 hours before you stand in front of your people? If our current global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t know what the future holds. We cannot plan anything without the Spirit. Planning a preaching calendar requires you to rely on the Spirit. Why not one year out? And if he directs you to preach something you weren’t expecting right before you go to preach, rely on him in that moment too.
Reason #5: To take pressure off of the preacher
Pastors are extremely busy people. We wear a million hats, and no one knows what we truly do. So why not take some pressure off of whoever will be preaching by already having the sermon text planned ahead of time? Pastor, imagine what you could do with that extra hour or more that you normally spend frantically deciding what creative thing you need to say this week to your people.
Reason #6: To serve the rest of the team
Even if you are in a small church, every pastor relies on a team. Someone prepares for and leads the small groups or Sunday school classes. Someone leads the music. Someone prepares the bulletin. Planning a preaching calendar doesn’t just take pressure off of you, it serves the rest of the team. Your small group leader can prepare questions ahead of time now. Your worship leader can actually have time throughout the week to prepare songs based on your sermon. Be a team player. Plan a preaching calendar.
Reason #7: To give the primary preacher a break and others opportunities
As pastors, we aren’t good at resting. We see all of the needs in front of us and feel like we can’t stop working. Pastor, rest. Your congregation will be better off for it, as you live and model what you were designed to do as a human. Planning a preaching calendar forces you to preemptively plan times to rest, rather than your body forcing you to rest. And not just that! You can intentionally give others the pulpit as you rest. You can develop the next generation and raise up new pastors as you rest. That’s what planning a preaching calendar can do for you.
Pastor, you need to plan a preaching calendar. Your church will be better off. Your team will work more effectively. Your family will see you more often. Why wouldn’t you plan a preaching calendar? If you have never planned a preaching calendar, then start today!