Your Preaching Calendar Questions – How Far in Advance Should I Plan and More

Preaching-Calendar-Webinar-bigLast week’s “How to Plan Your 2010 Preaching Calendar” Webinars were a great success and I’ve enjoyed hearing from so many of you about how your planning is going.  I have also received a number of recurring questions that I’d like to address, starting today, here on the blog.

Q: How far in advance does the preaching calendar planning process need to start?

A: The short answer is as far in advance as you can get started.  As I mentioned at the end of the webinar, planning ahead 6-8 weeks is better than nothing.  However, you’re typically going to be wrapping up the past year and looking ahead at this time of year anyway, so I’ve found that November is a great time to get started.

I would encourage you to carve out some time and get to work on planning your preaching calendar as soon as possible.  If you have never done it before and you saturate the planning process with prayer and fasting, you will be amazed at how clearly 2010 will begin to come into focus as you plan.

Q: You mentioned collecting ideas from your congregation about sermon topics for the next year.  Do you leave it open ended or have a list of topics for them to pick?

A: Like I said in the webinar, I’m not sure you want to solicit ideas from everyone who attends your church (unless you can clearly explain it), but you may ask for ideas from members, small group leaders and other key leaders.  I would place this type of input in the early “information gathering” phase of planning your preaching calendar, so it will probably be pretty open ended.

This information combined with the topics your teaching team comes up with is a great starting point, but again, you definitely want to hear from God on what to include in the upcoming year and what to hold off on for the time being (and be sure to save all topics that may work at a later time).

Q: I’m a church planter, where do I start? My leadership team is all volunteer and aren’t “pastors”, do I still give them the full weight that you are giving your team to help create series?

A: Early on in your church plant (especially if you’re the only teaching pastor), planning your preaching calendar can seem like a massive undertaking – no “teaching team,” limited time to work on it, etc. – but let me encourage you to make the time to pray, fast and plan out your preaching in advance.  You can still collect ideas from others, but the bulk of the responsibility for putting together the preaching calendar will fall on you.

However, by planning ahead you will be able to 1) involve more people in the creative process, 2) be more strategic about your Big Days & when to address specific topics, and 3) be more intentional with your promotional efforts.  On top of all that, you will be able to lower your stress by knowing far in advance what messages you will need to prepare.

Q: Did you state that you plan your preaching calendar with your staff?

A: If you have multiple teaching pastors on staff, they are a natural preaching calendar planning team.  Each person has a vested interest in the preaching calendar and will bring valuable ideas to the table – both about what series to include and how to best approach them.

Involve the people that you believe will be helpful to the process.  You are certainly free to include others (beyond the teaching team) in the planning process, but no matter who is involved, remember that the ultimate responsibility of the preaching calendar belongs to the Senior Pastor.

P.S.- If you missed the “How to Plan Your 2010 Preaching Calendar” Webinar, you can listen to a replay of the audio at:

P.P.S. – For a set of resources that will upgrade all aspects of your Worship Planning, check out The Worship Planning Premium Package.

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

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