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.

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.


Me! said...

Jay, great blog on "Sermon Planning - How I Plan a Sermonic Year"!

A couple things that have worked for me in planning the yearly sermonic calendar that I'd add to your list include:

1. Get Feedback from your Leadership Team

When I asked my leadership team and Board of Elders on what they felt the church needed, I received valuable feedback. There were issues that the leadership team helped me preach to specifically meet needs within the church family. It also gave me insights as to the spiritual pulse of the leaders.

2. Get Feedback from your community
During one of our NPUC Church Planter Incubator, Elder Ron Gladden gave us a survey on various sermon topics that interest the unchurched. So I took this survey tool, and when to our local state university. I asked 10 - 15 university students what they would like to hear about when they came to church, and they told me.

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