Building a Strategic Preaching Calendar
If there is one thing I’ve learned about planning, it’s the importance of a calendar. In most cases, if it doesn’t make it to the calendar, it doesn’t get done. Building a strategic calendar takes discipline and time…but brings a great return.
An old friend and mentor of mine taught me the importance of having an annual calendar in front of me all year long. The easiest way to build a strategic calendar is to buy a desk calendar, tear all the pages off, lay them face down in chronological order and tape the back. Now you have the entire year in front of you. Writing events on different colored sticky notes gives you the ability to schedule and move things around without having to write in the actual calendar. Here's the one in my office.
I usually encourage pastors and leaders to build their strategic calendar in the fall of the year around four themes:
- Preaching/Sermon Series:
- Personal Vitality
In this blog, we’ll talk about the preaching calendar
While the pastor is the primary communicator, there is value in planning the year with a team. Team approached planning brings imagination and creativity to the table and gives the team a great visual for the year. Preaching calendars are usually planned around six or seven ideas or themes. You don’t necessarily have to know exactly what you’re preaching, but landing different themes and ideas on the calendar can help sermon prep, worship and creative arts excel. Good planning allows more opportunity for the Holy Spirit to speak and tweak the plans that you have put together for the year. You're also showing your team the importance and discipline of organizational planning.
Here are some suggested themes to help get you started:
- Jan: Vision Series: This is a great time to introduce new vision and/or change, as most people are open to new things at the beginning of the year. It's a great time to share new vision direction and objectives as well as challenge people to get on board.
- Feb: Love Series: Here’s a great place to build a series about loving (and reaching) your neighbor. Spin off Valentines Day and have fun with it. Tie it to Loving your Neighbor and use it as the groundwork for next month's series.
- Mar-Apr: Invite Series: Easter always lands in late March or early April. Launching an invite series before Easter can greatly impact the big day. This is an opportunity to build an invite culture in your church by teaching that inviting isn't an act of hospitality, it's missional and can result in life change.
- May-Jul: Christian Discipline Series: Typically after Mother’s Day, the weather is warm and churches begin to see the first fruits of the approaching summer slump. While attendance may decline, your core people still show up. This is a great opportunity to preach different sermon series that challenge people to follow Jesus more deeply.
- Aug-Sep: Marriage and Family Series: Once the summer winds down, families begin to get into the rhythm of school, activities and, yes...even church. A marriage and family series fits nicely here. Be creative and relevant with how you package the series. Deal with current issues and tie in your core values.
- Oct: Evangelism Series: Hopefully your church has new faces from the natural fall-autumn growth, which makes October the perfect month for intentional evangelism. Build series around questions like, "What happens after I die?" or "Why do I need to be saved?" These are questions unchurched people are asking, but not out loud.
- Nov-Dec: Holiday Series: Obviously these two months are ideal for holiday messages on thanksgiving and Christmas and a great opportunity to build end of the year giving initiatives...which is another subject.
Remember, if it doesn't make it to the calendar, it usually doesn't get done. A strategic calendar can greatly impact your sermon planning and will be helpful for your entire team.