Why You Need a Preaching Calendar and How To Get Started

One of the greatest struggles for a preacher is knowing what to preach next.  This can be a life-sucking weekly ritual.  If you are a senior pastor, a student ministries pastor, or anyone who preaches on a regular basis, you need a preaching calendar.

Preaching Calendar

A preaching calendar is a planned-out calendar that outlines what will be preached over the course of the upcoming quarter, half-year, or year.  The calendar is not created randomly but instead through prayerful considerations.

A great weekly challenge for a pastor who isn’t planning his sermons based on a preaching calendar is constantly figuring out what to preach, what particular book to preach through, or what sermon series to preach next.  You see, a preacher without a plan is like a miner in a new cave; he has one light on his head and can only see one step in front of him at a time.

Talk about stress.

But the preacher with a preaching calendar is like a miner who has planned ahead of time and set up lights all through the mine.  All he does after the setup is complete is simply walk through it.  A preaching calendar shines light through the entire year to give you the ability to think and plan ahead.

4 reasons why you need a preaching calendar:

1. Keeps your preaching balanced.  Most preachers have their “favorite” topics to preach on.  A calendar avoids a one-sided presentation of scripture.

2. Reduces the stress of not knowing what you will preach on next.  It’s only a matter of time before you preach everything you have learned in bible college or seminary.  Then what?  Preaching through a book, based on a calendar you’ve set for yourself, will keep you accountable and force you to preach on a variety of topics, challenging you to continue further study.

3. Shows great leadership on your part.  When church elders and leadership know that you have thought through what you will be preaching on in a long-term way, it gives you more credibility and it speaks volumes, showing that you take your preaching seriously.

4. You can get assistance for sermon preparation from your leaders. If you are intentional about this, you can communicate your calendar to certain people in church, and allow for them to gather supplementary material for you (i.e. illustrations).

Before we get into the “how to” of preaching calendars, let’s discuss examples of different types of preaching calendars that you can create.

3 types of preaching calendars

1. Preaching Calendar Around Books of the Bibles.

Using the method of preaching through an entire book is one of the best ways to preach in general.  You pick a particular book of the bible and preach all the way through it.  If you have never done this, then you may want to start with a smaller book.  You can start with James, Titus, or 1 John.  Let’s get really practical and look at how we can split up the book of James, for example.

If we wanted to start preaching through the book of James, we must break down the book by passages.  A passage is made up of verses that communicate one big idea.  Here is an example of what the first month could look like:

First Week: Introduction to James (1:1)

Text: 1:1  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

Subject:  An Introduction to the Book

Thoughts:  The types of questions that initially come to mind that I think may be worth exploring are: Who is James? What does it mean to be a servant of God?  What is the significant of “lord?” Who are the twelve tribes that he is referring to?

These questions are just a start.

Week Two:Text: 1:2-8Subject: Profiting From Trials Week Three:Text: 1:9-11Subject: The Perspective of Rich and Poor Week Four:Text: 1:12-18Subject: Loving God Under Trials

A benefit of using books of the Bible as a guideline for your calendar is that it forces you to preach what the bible says on a variety of topics.  This keeps you balanced and true to scripture.  Oftentimes, preachers make the mistake of focusing on one type of message and neglecting another (i.e. preaching on the love of God and forgetting wrath of God).

2. Sermon Series (Topical)

If you know your audience well, you can use this option to really customize your sermons to them.  Let’s say that, for example, giving has been down for the last year (Yes, sometimes people need to be encouraged to give their time, money, gifts, etc).  You may consider doing a six week series on generosity.  You can break this topic down by giving of time, money, etc.

Every congregation is different and unique. While all scripture is inspired and God breathed, not all scripture may be equally relevant at all times. For example, a funeral sermon given at a wedding would be ridiculous, regardless of the inspired content. The topical approach can address this issue by intentionally planning out your topics for your congregation, based on what’s going on in your individual congregation at the time.

Another way of using this approach is to use holidays as markers for your calendar.  For example, you can use the week before Easter all the way through Pentecost to preach on a sermon series about “The Person and Work of Jesus Christ.”  December is another great month that revolves around Christmas.  January is great for preaching on “priorities” and starting the year off right.

3. A Year Through the Vision

Most churches have a mission statement, vision statement, and core values.  If not, you should work with your church to create these important value statements.  However, a common problem with these statements is that members of the church rarely know about them!  Often, churches will have them “just to have them.”  But if your church is strategic and does have these statements in place, then using this method to outline your calendar will work very successfully.

What you can do is preach around the main purposes of the church.  For example, you may take the topic of discipleship and teach on things that relate to becoming more Christ-like.  You can take 10 weeks to create sermons around this theme.  Next you can teach on evangelism and missions. Another purpose is worship and prayer.  You can also include serving and ministry.  You may also want to discuss fellowship with other believers (relationships).

3 Ways To Create A Preaching Calendar

1.Get together with your leadership team.  Whether you are serving as a senior pastor, student pastor, or another other role, you should have leaders with you as you plan your sermons.  It is particularly important to include your leaders in mapping out your calendar.  Here’s why:

When they know what the preaching landscape is going to look like for the next quarter, half-year, or year, you can use their guidance in an awesome way.  Besides the fact that including them in the process is great leadership in general, you can also use them for your sermon preparation.

Simply ask them to keep their eyes open for any illustration that they feel may work for a particular subject or theme.  As they browse the internet, read news articles, or other peoples’ blogs, they can be a huge help by sending you material that you may use later in one of your sermons.  This will save you so much time!  This will also make them feel like they are important, and a part of the process of sermon preparation.

2. Go on a retreat.  Going on a retreat with you team is the best possible scenario.  As a team you guys can pray, fellowship, bond, and really concentrate on the preaching calendar.  Ask yourselves about the needs of your congregation, and think about subjects that you feel God is impressing on your hearts?  Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit here.

Once the weekend is over, the leaders will have an idea of what to expect from your preaching next year and they will also feel included with the direction of the church.  This can earn you tremendous leadership points. Everyone wins.

3. Create your calendar in digital format.  By creating your calendar digitally, you can make edits more easily.  Also, everyone can get a copy of it and add it to their own calendars.  Everyone will be on the same page and they will always know what type of illustrations and material you may need so that they can help you.

A preaching calendar is a great tool to give you a guideline for what you will be preaching next.  Remember, this is just a guideline.  If at times you feel that you need to deviate for a week to talk about something that is pressing, then go for it!

If you have created a preaching calendar for yourself, what type of approach has worked best for you?

  • Great article!

  • Peter Walters

    Thanks for the article. I try to build my calendar around 3 types of series.

    Teach – Biblical Books or Topical Series
    Build – (Working Towards A Goal) Evangelism Series before Easter as an example.
    Reach – Felt-need oreidnted with the non-church in mind.

    Blessings