In my previous blog, I wrote about the benefits and disadvantages of a preaching plan, as well as the core features to consider when designing and developing a preaching plan. In today’s blog, I want to give some practical tips to how a church can go about in developing the preaching plan.
Thomas Long (2016, 80-83) in his book, The Witness of Preaching puts forth four different types of preaching plans:, first, lectio continua (continuous reading), this type of preaching plan or textual selection is the attempt to preach through the Bible or a Testament, book by book, passage by passage and verse by verse. This is not necessarily done in biblical order from Genesis through to Revelation. But I am sure you get the idea. The aim is to preach sequentially or chronologically.
Second, lection selecta (selected readings instead of continuous reading), this approach to textual selection is based on the Life of Christ or the Seasons of the Church Year. Commonly referred to as the lectionary. These seasons include Advent (includes Christmas), reflects on the first coming of Christ stressing the salvation he brings, Lent, focuses on the renewal of Christians in following Christ, Eastertide (Resurrection Sunday to Pentecost) emphasis the victory of Christ over sin, death and the grave and his empowerment of the church and Ordinary Time or Standard Sundays allows for thematic preaching or preaching through a book of the Bible.
Local Preaching Plan
Third, the local preaching plan. Those responsible for preaching and teaching in the local church design and develop a preaching strategy, curriculum, or plan taking into consideration the intended goals for the local church [year], the Christian calendar, special events, and the civil calendar. These different aspects are brought together to inform a preaching plan resulting in a combination of a structured yet flexible preaching strategy. This could also be a blend of a few identified book series, thematic preaching,, selected passages,, preaching on Bible characters, and topical matters..
The Preacher’s Choice
The final method to the preaching plan is the preacher’s choice. This approach sees the preacher (this could be a preaching team as well) making informed or Spirit-directed choices on a quarter by quarter, month by month, or week by week basis. In view here is not a haphazard approach although there are some who go about it randomly claiming their openness to the Spirit. The preacher’s choice allows for flexibility to present doctrines, cover pastoral (congregational) themes and public issues. At the heart of this approach are careful and prayerful considerations.
All the approaches mentioned above have benefits and drawbacks. It is not my intention here to critique the various preaching plans., I mention them in order to create an awareness into the different options at one’s disposal. Furthermore, in human development terms, we have a listening audience who finds themselves at different stages in their spiritual walk. We could say we have listeners who are babies, toddlers, teenagers, young adults, senior adults, and older adults. What is key is the selection of a preaching plan attuned to the spiritual temperature of the church and where there is a commitment to the spiritual development of the listeners. There is no one size fits all.
Now, we already established who plans the preaching? The [lead] pastor for preaching and teaching and the preaching team with the assistance of elders and deacons and perhaps a few key members. When should this happen?, At least two months before the end of the church year.? What kind of preaching plans are available?, In this article we have identified four, namely, lectio continua (let us call this book preaching), lectio selecta (lectionary preaching), a local preaching plan, and the preacher’s choice.
An Example of a Quarterly Preaching Plan
In order to illustrate how to compile a preaching plan, I am using the local preaching plan as an example to demonstrate how this could look in practice.
Our church programme for the year normally kicks off during the second week of January. Thus, in January, we have three to four weeks. For us it might look something like this:
09 January 2022 – Vision Sunday (we reflect on the vision of the church)
16 January 2022 – Values Sunday (we have five core values, which we revisit)
23 January 2022 – Volunteer Sunday (we encourage our members to be active)
30 January 2022 – Covenant Sunday
At the end of the sermon on Covenant Sunday, the leadership of the church makes a commitment to the congregation to lead in a God-honouring way by making several declarations and the members of the church make a similar declaration to support the vision and the values of the church through active service.
The purpose for the above approach is to remind ourselves to submit our personal goals for the New Year under the Lordship of Christ and to reflect on our common goals as a church community. We thus renew our commitment to the Lord and to one another through mutual consecration.
In February through to March, we will preach a series focusing on Abiding in the Word: The Power and Beauty of the Bible. One of our core goals for the year 2022 is to develop a culture of biblical literacy in our church. In order to achieve this goal, we will have a seven-week series focusing on the importance and significance of the Word of God in the life of every believer.
06 February 2022 – The Word is Like Bread (Deuteronomy 8:1–20)
13 February 2022 – The Word is a Seed (1 Peter 1:13–25)
20 February 2022 – The Word is a Light (Psalms 119: 105-1120
27 February 2022 – The Word is a Mirror (James 1:19–25)
06 March 2022 – The Word is a Hammer (Jeremiah 23:23–32)
13 March 2022 – The Word is a Sword (Hebrews 4:1–12)
20 March 2022 – The Word is our Foundation (Matthew 7:24–27)
On the 27th of March, we might have a stand-alone (miscellaneous) sermon. But we will be discerning and in all probability bridge to the new series.
From mid-March through to April we will cover a new series called: The BIG STORY…His Story, Our Story – Your Story! As I said, the goal for the year is to create a culture of biblical literacy. Thus, this series is a six-part series covering the grand story of the Bible.
03 April 2022 – The Creation of the Universe: The Beauty to Behold (Gen. 1-2)
10 April 2022 – The Crisis in the Garden: Self-serving and Separated (Gen. 3)
15 April 2022 – The Cross on a Hill: The Lamb of God (Good Friday) (Matt. 26-27)
17 April 2022 – The Charge: Tell them I am Alive (Resurrection Sunday) (Matt. 28:1-15)
24 April 2022 – The Church on Mission: Go, Grow and Give (Matt. 28:16-20; Acts 1-2)
1 May 2022 – The Coming of the King: The Saviour and the Judge (Matt. 24:31-51)
The following week sees us celebrating Mother’s Day. This service is normally a joint venture by the dads and children in celebrating our moms.
I hope these practical suggestions provided in this blog are helpful to our pastors and their preaching teams who carry the responsibility for preaching and teaching. As you explore the possibilities of a preaching plan with your team remember to plan a preacher’s retreat. Bathe the process in prayer, keep the strategic goals in view, evaluate the spiritual temperature and maturity of the church and finally develop the preaching plan. This will include but is not limited to book studies, thematic or topical series preaching. Make appropriate text selections where needed knowing this is a rough draft and continue to bathe the process in prayer.
To my fellow preachers in the words of the apostle Paul, preach the word (κήρυξον τὸν λόγον) (2 Tim 4:2).
Pelham Lessing is the Programme Coordinator for the BTh Honours programme and forms part of the Programme Development Team in addition to being a lecturer and thesis supervisor at the South African Theological Seminary (SATS, 2006-present). He also serves as the lead pastor of Every Nation [City Church] in Gqeberha formerly Port Elizabeth (2020-present).
Long, G Thomas. 2016. The Witness of Preaching 3rd edition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.
Gibson, Scott M. 2012. Preaching with a Plan: Preaching with a Plan: Sermon Strategies for Growing Believers. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.
Rummage, Stephen N. Planning Your Preaching: A Step-By-Step Guide For Developing A One-Year Preaching Calendar. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications.
Green, B. Joel, Thomas G Long, Luke A Powery, Cynthia L Rigby, and Carolyn J Sharp. 2019. Connections: A Lectionary Commentary for Preaching and Worship. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.
 In some church traditions, the seasons are represented by a colour, e.g., Advent is violet, Christmas is white, Lent is blue, and Pentecost is red.
 Spiritual, numerical, geographical, developmental, and financial goals.
 These are themes in the Bible, for example, redemption, righteousness, restoration, or reconciliation.
 Instead of preaching on the whole book of Matthew the series is limited to the Sermon on the Mount or prayers in the Pauline Letters.
 Topical issues could be topics such as ethical issues: racial discrimination, inequality, creation care or biblical parenting.
 Generally, preaching aimed at the social, ethical, and personal needs of a congregation are called pastoral preaching.
 These are working titles. They will in all probability change.
 Please notice that for the next four sermons we stay in the book of Matthew.