How far out do you plan your sermons? Three months? A year? How about three years? I’ll admit, I don’t hear many of us talking about a three-year preaching calendar. But, vision typically stretches out three to five years. If your sermon planning only goes out one year, how do you expect to push your vision forward?
The visionary leadership power of the pulpit is immense. I want to give you a free, 3-step Vision Preaching Calendar template to help you release your God-given preacher super powers:
Step 1: Engage Your Vision
Your church depends on you, its lead pastor, to listen to God and lead them in the direction He intends for the church. This vision work is yours, baby! No one else can do it. Begin your sermon planning with a clear, compelling, concrete vision statement. What needs to be accomplished and what do your people need to bring the vision into reality? If it’s going to take collective prayer, how will you activate them? If it’s a lot of money, how will generosity be raised? If it’s serving your city, how will you motivate them? List the vision and people needs necessary to reach your vision these next three years, then order the needs by importance and logical sequence. Finally, sort those vision needs by year. What must happen this year and into years two and three?
Step Two: Plan your Seasons
The church calendar has a repeating rhythm of two seasons—Grow and Disciple. The Grow seasons are fall and spring while the Discipling seasons are winter and summer. Tom Nebel calls this the Two-Hump Camel Church Calendar (watch his video here).
The Grow seasons are about reaching new people. They’re seasons of attraction when you address the natural impulses of life that open people up to the gospel. Use high interest sermon series during the grow seasons. Create space in your church for invitation and outreach The Discipling seasons are about consolidating growth and maturing people in the Jesus lifestyle. These seasons are ripe for vision-casting, textual studies, and topical lessons that resource people to grow as Jesus followers
With your vision and seasons firmly in mind, map out this year’s lessons so you know that your vision is being moved down the road. Once you’ve filled this year’s calendar with seasonal lessons, you’ve completed 80% of your annual preaching calendar. You’ll be leading your people from the pulpit in ways that make progress on your vision while using the natural growth and discipling seasons of your church.
Step Three: Insert for Balance
Use the remaining 20% of your calendar to balance out your preaching with the needs that arise because of life. Some of you might leave these eight or so Sundays empty to give you room to wiggle, to adjust dates, allow guest speakers, (or take your vacation!). Others of you will feel more comfortable inserting ideas to work on. Either way, these open Sundays allow you opportunity to adjust the content of your preaching calendar to the unanticipated events of life.
If you haven’t already downloaded your free Vision Preaching Calendar, do it now. Feel free to adjust this calendar so it meets your needs.