Preaching is taking people on a journey. It is used to move them forward in their discipleship journey. Preaching is the “foolishness” that “pleases God,” so that those that believe might be saved. It is the process of taking the “living word of God” and presenting it to people who need its power to overcome the flesh and live life by the Spirit. So, if preaching is so important, why do we not process it differently? It would seem wise to coincide your yearly preaching calendars with the plan of God for the local church He has called you to lead.
The sign on a coach’s office wall reads, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail!” Therefore, all of this process begins with an Evangelism Strategy. Each fall I go on a prayer retreat to prepare for the next year. It can be as short as one day or as long as three days. It is a time of emptying myself of “me” and finding God’s Will for His local church. While on the prayer retreat one of the goals is to write an evangelism strategy for the upcoming year. “What does God have in store for us” is what the question looks like. Through prayer, worship, thinking, planning, resting, and listening, God reveals to you deep and beautiful works of His Kingdom.
Evangelism Strategies change from year to year. Please understand; we are not changing the mission and vision every year. We are developing a laser focus to fulfill a part of that mission and vision within a specific time frame. One year our evangelism strategy was to start a service that ministered to people with addictions. Another year our focus was mothering a small and dying church in another community near us. This concept has really brought joy and purpose to my life and ministry through finding and following the Will of God for His local church.
Once the Evangelism Strategy is realized, I begin to think and pray. What will be needed to accomplish this? Is this a singular event or is this an ongoing ministry? I allow this to unfold in a chronological format processing each step God reveals to me and how the church can and will interact with it. This is the hardest part of the process; Allowing God to give you pieces of the puzzle and then arranging them with His guidance. Once this is all put together, the joy of preaching can begin to set in!
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With a clear understanding of the Evangelism Strategy, it is easy to develop sermon series that surround and support the Will of God for the local church. Each January as the new year starts, there is an excitement from the congregation. They know You have been seeking God and His Will for what He desires to do through the church for the current year. As you have developed this strategy, you have also developed a budget to enable the work of the Kingdom to be accomplished. So, each January as the strategy is revealed, the first series is on giving and faith. I believe that entire work of God could be simplified down to giving and faith – Jesus Gave – Do You Believe!
Instead of there being a heavy heart concerning sermons on giving and faith, there is excitement! The people have seen God work through them. They are growing in their understanding of the Kingdom of God and the parts we plan in it. As the Evangelism Strategy is presented and giving/faith is preached, there becomes a rallying point for the local church to get excited about. Their hearts are open, the Spirit of God is working, and the foolishness of preaching is moving them forward on their journey.
Expositional Preaching is at the passion of my heart. If there is a book that espouses a theme that will work alongside the evangelism strategy, I start that book in February and plan it’s ending in May. Now is a good time to discuss what many pastors know as “Summer Slump”! It is real and often discouraging. Vacations are needed and important. But far too often fringe congregants seem to “disappear” in June and magically reappear somewhere around mid-August.
Therefore, I do what we call “Summer Sermon Series”. I base the sermons off of Christian Books that the congregation can get and read throughout the summer. They may be missing Sundays, but if they are reading the book they are at least moving forward personally if not so much corporately. I have preached through faith books, Christian self-help books, and one summer I even tackled the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I used Screwtape Letters the year our Evangelism Strategy was addiction. It worked well to open the eyes of the church to Spiritual Warfare.
With summer over and the start of school on the horizon, the goal of the preaching calendar is to develop deep foundations. It is a great time to celebrate the “wins” of the Evangelism Strategy. The goal here is to edify the church! Have people share testimonies, preach impactful faith building messages and focus on encouraging the congregation to invite their friends. People seem to be open to church in the fall of the year in our small-town setting. While still focusing on the evangelism strategy, I develop sermons on marriage & the family, prayer, faith, Kingdom mind-ness, and however the Holy Spirit leads while on my Prayer Retreat.
These shorter series take us all the way through November. I have come to the understanding that Christmas is a big time of the year for most people. They enjoy the season and are open to its joy. I go all out for the Christmas Season. We coordinate with every department in the church. We do outlandish decorations, with trees and lights, and anything else we can think of! The congregation once again gets excited and new families become a part of the local church.
So, for me, my preaching calendar begins with developing an evangelism strategy. From that strategy I focus on five parts of the year: January – Unveiling of the strategy, February through May – Expositionally processing a supporting book of God’s Word, June through August – Summer Sermon Series, September through November – Short Foundational Series, and December – Celebration of the Birth of Christ/The Gospel.
Preaching is not an exact science, but this model has been a useable process for me. Ministry has a lot of moments, some good and some not so good. Often the only encouragement I might have throughout the ups and downs of ministry is when I feel good about my preaching. It is the only thing we have that is just God and Us. My hope is that you enjoy preaching and are encouraged through these moments of ministry!
This is just one of many productive ways to plan your preaching. How do you arrange your preaching calendar? Don’t forget to download the Preaching Calendar.
*The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author(s) or speaker(s) and do not represent the beliefs or positions of the Academy of Preachers. The distribution of content by Academy of Preachers is an effort to fulfill our mission to Identify, Network, Support, and Inspire young people in their call to gospel preaching. Our network and participants are widely diverse in geography, ethnicity, culture, gender, theology, tradition, and practice. We give space for those in our network to contribute their unique voices to a global conversation on gospel preaching and Christian ministry.
About the author…
Gray Nordan started out in ministry as a Youth and Worship Pastor. After serving in those roles for 8 years, he was elected to serve as Northern Missouri Youth and Christian Education Director for the Assemblies of God. Those years of ministry were filled with leadership, evangelism, discipleship and training. For the last 11 years Gray has served as the Lead Pastor of Countryside Assembly in Bolivar, MO. Gray has a B.A. in Pastoring Ministries and Counseling from Central Bible College/Evangel University and his M.Div in Expository Preaching from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. He is married to his wife Michelle for 26 years and they have 3 children who are loving and serving the Lord.