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Deepen Your Preaching Barrel by Planning Ahead

The benefits of using your summer to plan out your sermon series for the coming year.

Deepen Your Preaching Barrel by Planning Ahead

When I first became senior pastor of Tenth Church in Vancouver in 1996, I had limited preaching experience. Sundays seemed to hurtle toward me at the speed of sound every three or four days and one of my biggest anxieties was deciding what to preach on. As I look back on my first sermons that summer, I see how I recycled the few sermons I had in my hip pocket. Then I ran out and panic set in. After a couple of months, I felt like I was "scraping the bottom of the barrel" for sermon material. In those days my sermons basically consisted of the Bible text, a football illustration, and a quote from C.S. Lewis.

One of the practices that has made preaching at Tenth Church sustainable, and even life-giving, has been taking time each summer to map out the possible sermon series for the coming year, from September through the end of June (an associate pastor plans our summer series in the spring). I have found that summer is a particularly good time for me to engage in some longer-range ...

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Displaying 1–2 of 2 comments

Gerry Gould

June 27, 2017  2:46pm

Thanks for this helpful article, Ken. I used to be much more "spontaneous" in preaching, but once I moved to service design teams and a larger Staff team, I have had to adjust (teams yield better results generally, but presents a challenge to be responsive to the "winds of the Spirit"). I told one of my Staff recently that I feel restrained by having "series mentality" - I want to call an audible! I like that you give yourself freedom to adjust throughout the year. Following summer vacation, I take a few weeks to prayerfully plan the entire year. As has been mentioned, balance is important to us here, too - theological, practical life, being on mission, spiritual practices, evangelistic, Bible books and characters, Church vision, stewardship, etc. Reading your insights, Minho's triangle idea and then Tim's comments, made me realize we need to address culturally relevant issues in series themes more than we do, and not just address them as applications in a message.

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Ken Duggan

June 27, 2017  12:48pm

I'm preparing now for my summer planning retreat. I will talk with key leaders at church and ask what those they serve are dealing with at present. I take 3 days at least an hour away from church. My wife often stays with me the first evening and leaves the next morning. With the input of my staff in mind I make sure that I offer a healthy dose of OT, NT, topical and character studies. Even if it is a topical message I make sure the text drives the message and series. I think, read and pray during these precious times away and am always amazed at the insight the Spirit gives as I withdraw from the familiar. I usually plan for six months now while I began planning for a year in advance when the church was young. I have been doing this now for 27 years at the same church, and as Ken says I am often concerned about what I am going to preach this year. However, dozens of series and hundreds of sermons later, I can testify that the Spirit still brings fresh insight into His Word.

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