Planning Your Preaching – Conclusion

A Great Preaching Resource!

As we wrap up our series on sermon planning, I want to emphasize that this is a work in progress. I closed with that last time but it bears repeating. When I started planning my sermons in advance, it was awkward at first. My only tools were a notebook, ruler, and a pencil. I made columns in the book, wrote the Sundays down, and then started working through the year. I still have those old notebooks and refer to them to look at how I started and how I do things now. I suspect my calendar will look different in five years but will contain much of the essential elements I’ve already shared with you. Another thing, once you get used to this method of planning, you may wonder how you survived before. It’s refreshing for me to kick off my week on Monday knowing ahead of time what I will preach on Sunday. I can print out my text, line it out, and focus on the spirit of the sermon rather than fumbling around for any and everything to give me an idea.

Here’s a few random tips as you begin and then I’ll close with some resources..

1) Give yourself time. You CANNOT do this in an hour. When you first get started, try lining out six months in advance or even three if you feel stressed. You’ll soon grow into a year and then, it’s just a matter of maintenance on your part to keep the calendar current. Find a quiet spot with a good cup of coffee or tea, plug in some calming music on your MP3 player, and set down for a few hours the first time out to get this started. Remember, you’ve investing your time now and will be grateful for it later in the year. In the end, you’ll save time doing this.

2) Leave some Sundays open. You never know when you might get sick or a preacher friend of yours plans to visit. You might wish to extend your pulpit to him to preach so it’s best to leave a few Sundays open for these types of things. I usually plan betwen 40-45 Sundays of the year on my calendar.

3) Be aware of your planned series as you read the news and/or see video clips that address the topics on your calendar. One of the great benefits of planning in advance is that you can take advantage of the media to give you all the illustrative material you need for your sermons. If I see something on the internet that will help me, I’ll print it out and save it. I have a business “tickler” file that I use for all of my paper and I simply drop these illustrations in their appropriate slots and when the time comes they are right where I need them. Again, planning ahead saves you time in many different ways.

As I mentioned at the outset, there are very few tools out there with advice in this area. A couple of my favorites include the book “Planning your Preaching” by Steven Rummage, “Preparing a One Year Preaching Calendar” (audio download) by Nelson Searcy, and the section on sermon planning the book “Can We Do That” by Andy Stanley and Ed Young Junior. Much of what I have shared with you and adapted over the years came from these resources. If you know of others, please share and let me know!

I hope you’ll take the time to plan your preaching in 2010. Your congregation will benefit and you’ll have much less stress as you go from Sunday to Sunday each week. If I can be of service to you in any way, please contact me through this site and I’ll be sure to get back in touch with you.

God bless and happy planning!

Planning Your Preaching – Conclusion

One thought on “Planning Your Preaching – Conclusion

  1. Dear Pastor Cheatham,

    You’ve posted some interesting ideas.

    I have never been in a position to need to plan a series of sermons, since I have never preached.

    As an English teacher I did plan out my school lesson plans quite meticulously. After a lesson was “taught,” I reflected upon what worked, and what did not work, and wrote myself suggestions about how to do it better next time.

    I had a plan for the daily proverbs and quotations I used. I arranged them by topic. I sequenced the topics according to the season of the year, the specific needs of my students, and the content of the course being taught. I had my students respond in writing each week to the quotations I presented. This really focused my students’ attention, and helped them apply the quotations to life. Even visitors to my classes could tell immediately that the students in my classes were altogether unlike any other students they ever encountered elsewhere, and told me so. My students’ lives were transformed.

    If I were a preacher, I would focus upon a number of things. I would want to focus upon Bible doctrine, especially the doctrine and understanding one must have in order to be saved, starting at John 3:16.

    I would focus upon apologetics. I would spend my time in the pulpit teaching, not preaching (which is probably one good reason I’ve never been a preacher). I would teach my congregation what the Bible says about itself.

    I would teach my congregation how to study the Bible for themselves.

    I would focus on the Christian Evidences that prove the truth of the Bible and the truth of Biblical Christianity. You spoke of Easter and Christmas. If I were a preacher, I would focus upon such matters as the doctrine of the virgin birth (Christmas). For Easter I would do a series based upon 1 Peter 1:11 regarding the prophetic matter of “first the suffering, then the glory.” I would use the cross references given in Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible for that verse and its parallel in Luke 24:26.

    I would tell the story of Gilbert West and Lew Wallace, two skeptics who set out to demolish Christianity. Wallace is known for writing the classic Ben Hur. He wrote that after doing serious research to discredit the Gospel story, and as a result of the research, became a true believer in Christ. Not wanting those years of research to be wasted, he used the material to write Ben Hur. Gilbert West likewise was a skeptic out to disprove the resurrection, and was converted to Christ, and wrote a great apologetic work defending the truth of the resurrection.

    An author named Irwin Linton wrote a book called A Lawyer Examines the Bible. He observes, at the start of the book, that he had never met a skeptic or unbeliever who had ever read so much as even one of the scholarly defenses written to demonstrate the truth of Christianity. Linton was a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

    I believe it is Ken Ham and another author who have written a book most recently which claims that children of Evangelical parents fall away from the faith in their twenties to a greater degree if they have been regular attenders of Sunday school. I can tell you why right off the bat.

    Our churches are not teaching either in Sunday school or in church what needs to be taught.

    About a month ago my former student, Pastor Emery Moss, had a caller to his Bible Talk program ask the question, “Where can I find an apologetic church?”

    That question took Pastor Moss by surprise, but he realized that the caller, a former member of his own church, Strictly Biblical Ministries in Detroit, had moved to Grand Rapids, and wanted to find a church that taught apologetics like Pastor Moss does, from the pulpit.

    Where did Pastor Moss get that emphasis? From his old English teacher, Mr. Jerome Smith!

    When Pastor Moss was a teenager I loaned him books on apologetics, including The Testimony of the Evangelists by Simon Greenleaf, and Stoner’s little book, Science Speaks, which has good chapters on fulfilled prophecy.

    If I were a pastor, I would teach my congregation from the pulpit about Biblical hermeneutics.

    Now I am sure all you pastors would chide me, saying, “Jerry, if you did all that, you’d scare all the people away!”

    As a matter of fact, I have found the opposite to be true: more people will be drawn to your ministry because they realize that when they go home, having heard your message, they now know something that they did not know before they came to church that Sunday.

    In sum, I would literally go at teaching from the pulpit with the purpose of teaching myself out of a job. I would try to teach my congregation everything I know, and I would urge them to dig further into these matters themselves so they would surpass me.

    I would teach and stress evangelism. I found that the high school students in my Bible club were most eager to learn how to reach others for Christ.

    I would seek to inoculate my parishioners against the inroads of false cults by teaching cult apologetics. I would thoroughly teach my congregation the Biblical proofs for the doctrine of the Trinity. I would teach them the genuine Biblical doctrine of man, and the meaning of such terms as “soul” and “spirit.” I would teach them thoroughly the concept of the justice of God, the holiness of God, and His many other attributes: indeed, I would teach them the harmony of the attributes. I would teach them about the theocratic Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I would teach them so well that no Jehovah’s Witness or any other cult member would have a chance. I would teach my congregation to put on the whole armor of God, as Paul teaches in Ephesians 6.

    If I were a preacher, I would seek to maintain the balance and emphasis in my pulpit ministry that I find recorded in the Bible.

    May be it is a good thing I’m not a preacher! Yet I hope I have given you some ideas, some meat to chew on. We all need to set our sights higher than we do. Our people are capable of learning and understanding much more than we give them credit for. If you don’t think so, go back and read what Paul wrote in his greatest doctrinal epistle, the book of Romans, a book he sent to people he had never met in person. Paul was not afraid to dish out solid instruction. We shouldn’t be afraid to teach the Word either!

    Now, in this light, I invite you all to go back again and revise your Preaching Plan for the following year in the light of what I’ve just expounded!

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