5 Reasons Pastors Should Plan Their Sermons a Year in Advance

The preaching ministry of a pastor is important – far too important to simply plan on the fly. That is one reason why I am a huge proponent of planning my preaching calendar well in advance. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider it as well.

1- It takes the stress out of trying to decide what to preach each week.

The biggest stress I had when I first became a pastor was trying to decide what to preach each week. Since I had no real plan, I had no framework to help guide that decision-making process.

By planning my sermons a year in advance, I never have to wonder what I will preach. My preparation may take me in a little different direction than I anticipated, but I have a starting point, and that makes all the difference.

2- It helps you provide the church with a balanced spiritual diet.

One of the dangers of not planning your preaching in advance is that you unknowingly preach only one genre, one or two main doctrines, or only from one Testament. While those messages may be great, the church needs to hear from both the Old and New Testament on a regular basis. They need to be challenged from different genres of Scripture.

Planning your preaching in advance allows this to happen.

3- It forces you to think about the entire church’s yearly activities as they relate to your preaching.

If you attempt to plan your preaching in advance without planning your church’s activities calendar in advance, you will be continually frustrated. If you don’t know what events and activities your church is planning, it is very difficult to plan your preaching to coordinate with those events.

4- It helps your preaching ministry to remain proactive instead of reactive.

As a general rule, it is always better to be proactive rather than reactive. I believe this is true in preaching as well. Proactive preaching means you have a spiritual end goal in mind and each week you preach a message that moves your church toward that goal. It is deliberate and intentional. It is your road map that takes you toward your intended destination.

5- Since you know what you will be preaching in the weeks and months to come, you can be on the lookout for illustrations, stories, and resources that can help you drive home the truth of God’s Word.

The best sermons are the ones that have time to simmer – they are not usually thought up one day and delivered the next. They are thought about, prayed over, discussed, studied for, researched, planned, and then thought about some more. Planning your preaching well in advance allows time for the upcoming messages to ripen into the spiritual food your people need.

One Common Objection

Some people have objected to this concept by saying that such planning eliminates the possibility of the Holy Spirit guiding the pastor in his preaching ministry.

But this is not at all the case. The mistake they make is assuming that the Holy Spirit can only guide the preacher in the week leading up to when a sermon is preached. I happen to believe that God can use the Holy Spirit to guide the preacher in the planning process, even if that process takes place a year in advance.

Do I ever deviate from what has been planned? Occasionally, but it is rare. I am continually amazed at how well messages that have been planned months in advance are used by the Holy Spirit to address needs or events that I had no idea would exist.

Give it a shot. I think you will see the many benefits that will come as a result.

The Act of Preaching vs. The Message Preached

Understanding I Corinthians 1:21

I Corinthians 1:21 is a verse that is often misunderstood. It states: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (KJV)

The Misunderstanding

Those who misuse this verse usually do so because of how this verse is translated in the King James Version. The way this verse is worded draws one’s attention to the act of preaching. As a result, I have heard many people say that God has chosen to save people by the act of preaching. Unfortunately, that is not accurate. There are a couple of ways we can know this is not an accurate understanding.

The Word “Preaching”

The main proof of this is found in the original language. The word that is translated as “preaching” in the King James version is actually a noun in the Greek, NOT a verb. The author is referring to the message that is preached, not to the act of preaching. God has chosen by the foolishness of the message preached to save sinners. It is the message that saves, not the act preaching.

The Context

This can also be seen in the context. There are a couple of verses that surround verse 21 the also point to the message, not the preaching. The first one is verse 18. It says,

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Notice that it is the preaching of the cross that saves. The cross is the message that is preached. The other verse that adds context is verse 23. It reiterates this point by saying:

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.

A Correct Understanding

Again, it is not that they are preaching, it is what they are preaching. They are preaching Christ crucified. The focus of verse 21 is not on the act of preaching, it is on the message that is preached. It is the gospel message that saves, not simply the act of preaching. The New American Standard Version, which is widely accepted as one of the most literal translation, is accurate when it says:

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

Closing Thoughts

When the emphasis is on the act of preaching instead of the message that is to be preached, attention is taken away from the gospel and given to the preacher. Don’t think that the mere act of preaching can save; it is only the gospel message that saves.

Certainly, it is important to communicate the gospel. Preaching is obviously necessary. In fact, preaching is at the center of Christian worship. However, it is not the act of preaching that saves. To misinterpret this verse in this way is to misuse Scripture.

Pastors, Please Use God’s Word Correctly

As I look at churches, pastors, and Christians in general, I am concerned with how God’s Word is being treated. There are several issues that can be seen.

I see people who are more committed to arguing about their prefered translation of the Bible than they are living out the message of the Bible.  I see Christians in general who refuse to study God’s Word for themselves, and as a result are ungrounded and an easy target for the enemy.  I see pastors who will correct a church member’s misuse of God’s Word if it has led them to an unbiblical life.  But these same pastors will ignore a misuse of God’s Word as long as it leads to a more conservative life.   All of these incorrect responses to God’s Word have a negative affect on the church as a whole.  Ultimately we are teaching (or being taught) that God’s Word is not really that important.

My worst concern, however, has to do with pastors.  It is never okay to misuse God’s Word or to allow people in the church to misuse God’s Word.  Pastors have a God-given responsibility to be faithful to God by accurately preaching and teaching the truth of God’s Word.  A misuse of God’s Word is a misuse of God’s Word regardless of whether it leads to a more liberal or a more conservative life.  People must know what God’s Word really means and how to accurately apply it.  Pastors who ignore this responsibility are passively teaching those in their church that there are times when it is okay to abuse Scripture.  When it comes to God’s Word, there is no room for misinterpretation or misapplication.  The bullseye must be hit.

May God give pastors boldness to see that those in their church accurately understand the truth of God’s Word.