Juggling Sheep
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.

Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Sermon Planning - One Day Retreat

The last few posts have concentrated on how I plan my sermonic year. And I see you shaking your head and saying, "I don't have three months to plan! It's January already! I need something quick!!!"

Truthfully, you can do about the same process in a day, if you have to. Here's a link to a plan for a one day sermon planning retreat. They also have several other great links. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Sermon Planning - How I Plan 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 written process that I use as a 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 (formatted in MSWord) 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 workbook. In November, I take a look at what I've collected all year long from books, devotionals, church needs, current events and culture (we'll address sermon series planning more later).

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.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Sermon Planning - Why Plan a Sermonic Year?

I try to plan my sermon schedule out a year in advance. Every October, I get out my sermon planning notebook, a calendar of next year, a few completed sermon series planning worksheets, and my sermonic year planning checklist. For me, planning out the next year is a three month process. (A lot of this is already taken care of if you use a lectionary system).

I plan a year out for the following reasons:

1. It is a leadership discipline to think in advance.
God plans ahead (Jer 29:11). And God expects us to plan ahead (Prov 13:16; 16:9). The pastor is a leader. Therefore, the pastor needs to be out ahead of the flock, planning and setting direction.

2. It helps my sermons suck less.
There is something about planning that the Holy Spirit uses to make my sermons suck less (Prov 16:9). When I've planned ahead, I can give advance information to my music, drama, and planning teams to make each week more cohesive and excellent.

3. It balances my teaching.

I think of myself as a spiritual dietitian - feeding my congregation. I need to make sure the congregation is getting a balanced diet of theology and practical Christianity, Old Testament and New Testament, denominational distinctives and basics. If I don't plan ahead, I tend to fall back on my pet ideas and favorite topics. The whole Bible is inspired and useful... (2 Tim 3:16; cf. Acts 20:27)

4. It lowers my stress level.

If I don't plan my sermons in advance, I find myself freaking out half-way through the week trying to come up with a scripture. When I do plan ahead, I have a sense of peace knowing that I have a plan for where I'm going (and how I'll get there).

5. It helps me keep my eyes open for illustrations.
When I've planned my sermons in advance, the Holy Spirit seems to drop sermon illustrations into my lap. I'll be listening to a news story, and I'll think, "that would make a great illustration for my sermon on [blank] in three months." I'll write down the story and note it on my sermon series planning worksheet.
So much for why to plan a sermonic year. Next time, I'll write about how to plan a sermonic year.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Juggling Sheep - Time Management for Pastors

The Juggling Sheep logo is meant to convey the pastor's harried, and often unrealistic, schedule. There are many people with many different expectations. There are lot of things to balance. A lot of things to juggle - meetings, sermons, strategic planning, administration, training, evangelism, family, prayer, study, visitation, sudoku... Who has time for everything??!

This blog is about time management and personal productivity for pastors. In it, I'll be sharing what works (and doesn't) for me. And I hope I can learn a thing or two from you as well.

We'll keep coming back to balance and priorities quite a bit, I suppose.

Oh, BTW, the sheep for the logo come from the pencil of Lorna Robinson. I've never met her, but she has graciously allowed me to borrow some of her friendly flock for this blog. Thanks, Lorna.

Personal Vision Statement - Purpose, Values, and Vision

My Personal Vision Statement was developed over a few days of intensive prayer, reflection, and directed personal and group work at a CRM ReFocusing Leaders training event in 2004. It has changed very little over the last two years. This document has provided considerable guidance and accountability for my priorities, keeping me on track for the things I know are really important in my life and ministry.

If you'd like to go through a similar (simplified) process to come up with your own Personal Vision Statement, you can buy and use my Personal Vision Workbook.

My Purpose
I exist to live in childlike dependence on God, growing and maturing every day, letting people see His hand at work in my life.

My Core Values
  • Excellence – honoring God and inspiring people
  • Authentic Relationships – intentionally deepening with family and a few close friends
  • Visionary Leadership – listening, dreaming, obeying, mentoring, and leading the charge
  • Team Ministry – completing gifts, sharpening, challenging, inspiring, holding accountable
  • Pioneering – trying new things, starting new ventures
  • Church Planting – expanding God’s kingdom through new, mission-driven churches
  • Practicality – doing only those things that work
  • Worship – publicly and privately honoring God as Creator, Redeemer, and Lord

My Vision
My vision is to live a balanced life of love and service to God, my family, and my community.

I am called to place my family above my vocation, to be a loving and accessible husband and father, ministering to my family’s needs and demonstrating God's love in tangible ways.

I am called to lead a team of pastors to plant a growing church in a North American city and to facilitate a healthy, growing network of church plants that glorify God and prepare communities for Christ’s soon return.