8 Suggestions for Planning an Annual Preaching Schedule

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If I’m honest, I did far too little regular planning of my sermons when I was a young pastor. No one had discipled me about scheduling a sermon series, and I was too unorganized at the time to think far beyond the next Sunday. Now, though, I believe that strategic sermon planning is on target. I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections in response to these suggestions below:


  1. Pray. And then pray some more about the direction you’ll take. I fear that too many of us decide where we want to go with our preaching, prepare the sermons, and then ask God to bless them. We turn to Him more after our prep is finished than before.
  2. Plan and prepare out of your “alone time” with God. “Let your preaching come from the overflow of your life with God” is more than a spiritual slogan; it’s a life-giving goal. Spend time with the Father as you consider what your preaching schedule might be.
  3. Welcome the input of others who walk with Him. Sometimes we get so focused on our immediate thinking that we miss things others might recognize. For example, they might see that I’ve preached the same general material three years in a row, or that my plan seems to forget the church’s commitment to be more globally focused. More sets of spiritual eyes are helpful.
  4. Think wisely as you plan long sermon series. Here, I admit my bias, and I welcome your input. Given that we often don’t have dozens of years to invest in others through our preaching, I debate within myself the wisdom of taking years to preach through one book of the Bible. I’m concerned that while our hearers may learn that book really well, we’ll have missed an opportunity to introduce them to other books in that same amount of time.
  5. Preach the Word, but be open to various approaches. I believe strongly that we must exposit the Word, but I’m not convinced that approach means we can only preach through entire books. While I do think book-by-book preaching is the best overall approach, I’m open to occasional topical sermons that are clearly driven by and derived from the text.
  6. Plan to preach books from both testaments of the Bible. You would think this is a given, but most of us have a preference for a particular testament or particular books. It’s easy to get out of balance if you don’t intentionally plan for preaching both the Old and New Testaments.
  7. Plan for regular events that will likely influence your preaching choice. As you plan your preaching for the year, factor in the holidays that require some attention (e.g., Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.). Consider any special emphases the church annually plans (e.g., a homecoming service, a Global Impact Conference). Pay attention to the liturgical calendar if your church follows it.
  8. Be flexible. When 9/11 happened eighteen years ago, most of us adjusted our sermon the next Sunday to address the national crisis. Sometimes things like a local disaster, an unexpected death of a church leader, or a moral crisis/discussion in the news require us to make a change. Again, though, prayer can move us as needed in our sermon prep.

What are your thoughts about planning a preaching schedule?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published at

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MDiv Preaching and Pastoral Ministry

The Preaching and Pastoral Ministry track prepares students for pastoral ministry in the local church with a special emphasis on expository preaching.


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Chuck Lawless

Director of the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership

Dr. Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions, Dean of Doctoral Studies, and Vice-President for Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary, in addition to serving as Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists for the International Mission Board. He previously served as a Vice-President for Global Theological Advance for the IMB. Prior to that, he was dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, where he also served as Vice President for Academic Programming and the Director of Professional Doctoral Studies. He received a B.S. degree from Cumberland College and M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary. He is the author of eight works, including “Membership Matters,” and “Spiritual Warfare,” and has contributed numerous articles to denominational periodicals. He and his wife Pam have been married for over 25 years and reside here in Wake Forest, NC.

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