4. Plot the number of messages in each series– this is not an exact science and I caution you to leave 1-2 Sunday’s open after each series on your calendar. This way if you decide to add an extra message or get interrupted in your schedule you have already built room into the calendar. Here are a couple general guidelines:
- For series through a book I build the number of messages around the outline that I have developed for that particular book. Usually, I will read through the book 5-8 times and then consult a couple of commentaries to see how others have outlined the book. Once I have gotten a good grip on the structure of the book, I will draw up an outline of the entire series of sermons. I find that the most effective way of doing this is to identify a connecting theme that runs through the book. A couple of years ago, for instance, I preached through 1 John using the theme, “Authentic Christianity.”
- For a topical series I will study all of the Bible passages related to a particular topic, then choose 4-5 of the key passages that I will use when I preach the series. This is a topical expository approach because I choose the passages based on topics, but then preach the individual passages in an expository fashion.
5. Put together the schedule for your preaching:
- Start by marking holidays, special Sunday’s, vacation days ect… on your calendar.
- Look for openings and schedule the larger expository series where they can be as uninterrupted as possible. Personally, I like to start expositional series either at the beginning of the year, right after Easter, or at the beginning of fall. You will have to decide what works best for you.
- Schedule in the other series where they will fit the best on the calendar or fit with other emphases of the church.
6. Make a list of resources you will need to collect for each series- I like to purchase commentaries as I am preaching through the individual books of the Bible. As I draw up my plan, I will also do some research to find the most helpful commentaries and resources for the book that I am preaching at the time. Since I operate on a limited budget I need to plan when and how I will purchase resources. Over the past couple of years I have begun purchasing most of my commentaries and Bible study materials to work with my Logos Bible study software. If you are planning on using video or other resources, this would be a good time to start thinking about these issues as well.
7.) Decide how you will promote your preaching through print and social media- As modern preachers we also need to be thinking about how to promote our sermons through print and social media, in order to attract the largest possible audience. If you have a church Facebook site or twitter account, these can be effective tools for promoting a series of messages. But in order to make the maximum impact you need to plan ahead.
For more help in how to plan your preaching for the year, I would recommend Dr. Stephen Rummage’s book entitled “Planning your Preaching: A Step by Step Guide for Developing Your Preaching Calendar.”