Sermon Planning is a lot like building your portfolio for retirement. It’s an investment.
On the front end, there is a lot of hard work with relatively little reward. But solid, consistent investments early on will pay exponentially higher dividends later.
I have used several different methods of sermon planning throughout the years. When I first started preaching to Jr. High and High School students over a decade ago, I believed that God would tell me what I was supposed to say when I stood up to preach. I literally walked up to the microphone, opened the Bible, and wherever it landed…that’s what I talked about. Sometimes I can’t even comprehend the level of hubris I possessed!
As I matured in my faith and my understanding of God’s word, I began to wonder if there was a better way for me to be adequately prepared to rightly divide the word of truth. I would frequently ask gifted preachers, “How do you prepare your sermons?” More often than not, they responded, “One year at a time.”
Their advice revolutionized the way I thought about the Bible and even the way I prepare sermons today. Scheduling your sermons a year in advance is by far the most productive way to prepare yourself and your church for what God has in store.
3 Reasons Every Pastor Should Plan Sermons in Advance
1. God is an Organizer
Every aspect of the Bible communicates God’s character to us! From the beginning, He is revealed as a Creator who values structure and organization. He forms and fills His creation, and He calls it good. But the Bible doesn’t stop there! Both the Old and New Testaments, invite us to encounter a loving craftsman who is intimately involved in the lives of His creations. God is organized. God is a planner.
God’s propensity for organization is even reflected in how He desires to be worshipped. Read through books like Exodus and Leviticus, and you’ll be struck with the intricacy and detail God expects from Israel in their worship. His proclivity for structure even extends to worship from His Church. Read 1 Corinthians, and you’ll quickly realize that God wants us to worship Him in an orderly fashion.
So if God is organized and structured, and if God desires organization and structure in worship, shouldn’t that extend to our sermon preparation? I believe the answer is yes!
When we take the time to plan our sermons in advance, it pleases God and reflects his character in our worship!
2. Planning sets you free
It could be said that planning is drudgery. That’s understandable. We all feel the weight of planning for the future. After all, today has enough problems for us to deal with. We’re struggling to decide what we should preach this week! How can we possibly plan what we’re going to preach a year from now?
These struggles are real, but they don’t have to be the norm. You need to consider sermon planning an investment. It takes some time on the front end, but it’s freeing later on, because you won’t have to continue the weekly process of deciding what to preach.
There’s an old adage that says, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Truer words have never been spoken. Planning your sermons a year in advance will give you direction as a pastor and they help you measure whether or not your church is on the right trajectory. Planning produces freedom and clarity.
Of course, some will say they prefer not to plan their sermons that far in advance because they feel it quenches the Spirit. But as we have seen, God loves structure. In fact, He blesses it!
It is far better to have a plan and respond when the Spirit redirects than to not have a plan at all. If the Spirit doesn’t move, then you’ve got nothing!
3. Respect for God’s Word
Lastly, planning your sermons in advance is a good idea because it promotes respect for God’s word. As I alluded to earlier in the post, I haven’t always understood this concept. When I would stand up to teach without any preparation, at the age of 17, it communicated several things about me and about my beliefs. It communicated unbelievable arrogance. It communicated a lazy work ethic. Worst of all, it communicated my belief that carefully crafting a message from God’s word wasn’t worth my time.
Of course, I would never have admitted to that at the age of 17. I would have confidently asserted my conviction that the Bible is precious and worthy of deep reverence. But actions speak louder than words. Practically speaking, I had little to no real respect for the word of God.
As preachers we have a responsibility to value the word of God and inspire others to treasure it as well. When we fail to plan our sermons in advance, we end up communicating to our congregations that sermons are an after-thought and that deep study of God’s word is not worth our time.
Pastors should plan their sermons in advance because it communicates the richness of God’s word!
Let’s put a bow on this package. Preachers should plan their sermons a year in advance because it imitates the character of God. God is a planner, so we should be planners. Not only that, organizing sermons a year in advance is freeing! It requires some extra work on the front end, but ultimately frees you up on a weekly basis.
Lastly, planning sermons ahead of time communicates a deep respect for God’s word. May we always treasure the word of God and teach others to do the same!
Check out the complete sermon calendar guide.
Discussion Question: Do you agree or disagree with planning your sermons so far in advance? If you are already planning your sermons in advance, what procedure do you use to plan your calendar?