I’m an extremely organized person. What that means is that in early November 2016 I had all of my sermons planned out through the end of May 2017. I tell other minister’s that and they act completely shocked, and I sit there and wonder how on earth they manage to get things done in a timely manner and with the least amount of stress if they don’t even know what it is they’re doing.
Now, that said, writing your sermon Saturday night before preaching it Sunday is not a bad thing. But I will say, I have far less stress in my life so long as I even know what the message is going to be about and the scripture picked.
I work in sermon series. I don’t have a series for every week of the year, and when I’m not in a series, I preach lectionary. However, having a sermon series allows me to focus on one subject (or book from the Bible). It allows me to explore something over several weeks, which is especially helpful when covering subjects that take a lot of discussion and can’t easily be covered in one twenty-minute spiel.
I’m currently working through a series on the book of Acts (as if you couldn’t tell from my sermons all being from Acts). I did this series out of my own curiosity. I simply didn’t feel I knew enough about Acts, and that I hadn’t spent enough of my own time going through the chapters and verse. So I dragged my congregation along with me.
What this does, however, is it allows me to be prepared. I know exactly what I’m preaching on through February. I have the specifics of each sermon semi-listed out. I have the scripture, the title, the subject all done and over with. So that means, typically, my sermons are actually written by Wednesday of each week, not only that, but I’m actually two weeks ahead with sermon writing itself. Meaning the sermon I just wrote this morning (1/25) is actually for Sunday February 12th.
Talk about eliminating stress. Because not only was I informed of a congregant in the hospital (an hour and a half away from me I might add), but I was also informed I’ll probably have a funeral sometime in the next seven days. Now I don’t have to worry about writing a sermon for Sunday if I really cannot for the life of me find the time.
Last week when we were all sick? Yeah, I didn’t write a sermon at all. I didn’t have the energy or the brain power, and you know what? It wasn’t a big deal, because I planned ahead, I knew the subject, and it was going to work out.
For Lent we’ll start a new sermon series called Living the Five, basically five teachings of Christ we cannot live without with a focus on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. This helps us in two ways. One I know what’s going to happen, my secretary knows what’s going to happen, my worship chair and director know what’s going to happen, and my church knows what’s going to happen.
It’s all about communication. It’s about being able to plan. We can now have songs that match the theme of the worship hour. We can change the look of the sanctuary depending on the theme and sermon series. We’re going to do one all about the traditions in the church in late April/May, and we’ll be able to think about which traditions are important and emphasize those in other ways than just the sermon.
By being organized, by preaching sermon series, we are able to create and well-rounded worship service on Sunday that is more effective than if I just picked a scripture on Saturday night and ran with it on Sunday.
This is not to say I am not flexible. I am willing, as the Spirit leads and guides me, to throw my scripture and title out and start afresh and anew if it’s something I feel called to preach on. It’s happened before, and I know it’ll happen again. Flexibility is key but so is planning and being prepared.