For those who speak in their churches each week, I ask this question: How many of you take the time to plan your messages out more than a month or so in advance? Not many I’m sure. When I first started preaching on a weekly basis, I wasn’t prepared for the grind of putting together fresh, relevant messages each week. In 2002, I stumbled across “Planning Your Preaching” by Steven Rummage. I’m glad I made the decision to purchase this book. It seems there are countless volumes in print on how to preach but scant few on developing the tools needed to plan what to preach.
For starters, this book takes into account many different styles and traditions of worship. It’s rooted in the more traditional calendar of Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening services but it can be modified and used with great profit for those who only preach once a week. For example, you could modify the templates here to incorporate your mid-week bible study, small group calendar, or youth calendar. The tools provided allow for plenty of flexibility if you’re willing to invest the time needed to make them work.
In the beginning of the book, the author starts by sharing the benefits of advance planning and how to develop a strategy of preaching. From there, he gives you the “nuts and bolts” of planning and developing a one year calendar of preaching. He includes such topics as special days, ordinances, and even using a lectionary if that’s your style. Also covered are topics like doctrinal preaching and how to make sure you cover the whole of scripture in your preaching. In the end, he gives you some final tips for execution (There’s really no need to go through all of this if you don’t take steps to make it happen) and gives you some reproducible templates to help you on your way. I’ve used his “sermon starter” sheet many times when I’m stuck for ideas on developing my messages. In the end, if you’ve taken the steps the author asks of you, you’ll have a nice binder of message ideas and perhaps even some starter outlines to begin a new year of preaching.
I prepare my church year from August to July so I’m in the process of using these next few months to prepare for another year. Included in that is some time off for preparing my preaching calendar. Now is an excellent time for you to pick up this book, read it, and begin the fall season with some fresh ideas for preaching. For me, the months of June and July are planning months. I use them for developing my own personal growth plan, my preaching calendar, and outlining goals and objectives for the new year. As a pastor, nothing is more important than the preaching of the Word of God. Giving myself to this time of planning is imperative if I expect the Word to change lives in the coming year.
Rummage’s book is a goldmine in a sea of preaching books that never touch this topic. For about $15, you can have a text that will give you solid ideas and inspiration for the year ahead. As the summer months come upon us, I wholeheartedly recommend this book for your reading this season!