Planning a Sermonic Year

Planning out my sermonic year seemed like such a good idea. So I would put it on my list: “Plan Sermonic Year.” And I would look at those words every day. And the guilt would build. I knew I needed to do it, but I didn’t know where to start. Every year, I would take a couple of months and reinvent the wheel. No more! Now I have a Sermonic Year Planning Checklist.

Planning out the sermonic year is a long process. It takes me three months. I spend an hour or two on it each week. I spend a lot of time praying for wisdom. I need to hear from God and discern what direction he wants me to lead the church in the upcoming year.

Here is an overview of my steps:

1. Create a master calendar

In October, I start working on the master calendar for the next year. I include holidays, conferences, special events, vacation, communions, etc. on a master calendar. Then I use a one-page calendar for the sermon planning, so I can see the whole year at a glance.

2. Prayerfully choose major themes to address

There are certain topics I do every year – Vision in January; Life/Teachings of Christ around Easter; Values/Mission of the church in the Summer; Marriage/Parenting after Labor Day. I plan 3-4 other major topics (spiritual disciplines, OT Bible characters, denominational distinctives, book of the Bible, Christian basics, prophecy, stewardship, etc).

3. Prayerfully create 8-10 sermon series

I collect sermon series ideas wherever I find them all year long. I plan series 3 to 6 weeks long (I get bored with my own series if they’re much longer). I use a Sermon Series Planning Worksheet and put it in my sermon planning notebook. In November, I take a look at what I’ve collected all year long from books, devotionals, church needs, current events and culture.

4. Figure out where the series fit into the calendar

I try to put 1-3 weeks of space between series. That way, I can address current events and issues, bring in a guest speaker, or take the series a bit longer if the Spirit moves. The completed calendar is a beautiful thing.

5. Find guest speakers for off weeks (or special weeks)

In December, I start to invite guest speakers. I invite certain speakers every year – my conference president, for instance. I try to prioritize my speakers and give the important ones all of the available dates before I fill in the rest.

6. Give the completed calendar to team members

I give it to the board members, church secretary, musicians, graphic designer, outreach coordinator, etc. – anyone who needs to know.

The calendar changes sometimes. I changed the sermon schedule the weekend after 9/11. I got sick for a couple of weeks in 2006 and had to change things around.

Here’s the Checklist I use to keep me on task.

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