Through the years, I have realized that the more I prepare, the better I preach. And that is not just for the weekly task but also for the load of larger portions of time.
I do not limit the Holy Spirit’s work to the pulpit only because I believe He is just as vibrant and precise in the study as well.
That’s why I plan a sermon overview for a year at a time. Let me explain why.
Benefits of Yearling Planning
- It allows you to address genuine spiritual needs with the most applicable texts possible.
- It provides you space to plan for your church and family calendars.
- It causes you to consider how to prepare for attendance changes around seasons, holidays, and momentums.
- It helps you prepare a book budget and study process.
- It coordinates with other staff and volunteers as they prepare for worship, resources, and media.
- It keeps you aware of potential illustrations as they come.
Mindsets of Yearling Planning
That’s why I attempt every fall to plan the next year’s preaching calendar.
I trust the Word of God and the Spirit of God to prepare me to shepherd the people of God.
I have seen the megachurch models of series packaging, the uncertainty of the week-to-week pastor, and the hybrid plans of many. I keep tweaking how I do it, but I have shared some versions of a way I organize it with some pastors, and it seemed to help them.
So, if this can help you, have at it! What I have below is a Google spreadsheet of the 2023 calendar. By the way, 2023 has 53 Sundays! That already has me excited for the year.
Within the spreadsheet, you will notice some places for series titles, sermon titles, and other items you might want to consider.
You will also notice some emojis that will prepare you for specific holidays so you aren’t caught off guard. The only ones you might need to adjust are the book bags depending on when your local school district starts. Find the time when school starts and place those emojis on those dates because that time is typically the next to largest Sunday besides Easter for many churches since so many come back from vacation and require extra prayer before school starts.
One of the main reasons I like brainstorming on a spreadsheet is that you can adjust the weeks to different dates as you start to see how many weeks a series will take.
When I was outlining 1 Thessalonians for 2022, I wanted a certain section to fall on that year’s Easter Sunday and so adjusted the whole series to see how that landed. It just provides you with a simple way to see planning options.
Components of Yearling Planning
While any list can be altered, these are the things I try to have before a year starts:
- Provide a title and description for each series
- Prepare for which Sundays you think you will be off
- Passage defined for each week
- Title defined for each week
- 2-sentence description for each week (not enough room on a spreadsheet but put it on another document)
- Plan for any special event to precede or follow a sermon (communion, baptism, conference, etc.)
- Consider if there would be any type of unique application or response you would desire
- Bonus – there is also another sheet for 2024 in the document just in case a series spills over into the following year
Download 2023 Sermon Planning Guide
*This link is a Google spreadsheet. You can download it as a spreadsheet on your computer if you like, but the format might be a little wonky.
I hope this resource helps you. Use it, change it, or share it. Let’s do our best to preach God’s Word to these dear congregations!
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.2 Timothy 2:15
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.
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