For pastors, I think it’s smart to have an overview of an entire year of speaking, particularly if the bulk of your messages are topical in nature. The way our leadership team would determine the teaching calendar was preceded by uncovering what we called our yearly strategic initiatives—what we would want our entire staff and key volunteer leaders to be focused on for the next year, typically three-to-five initiatives.
Once those were determined, the leadership team would sketch out a rough teaching calendar for the next year—series and themes would be mapped on a calendar. We would keep five things in focus in this process:
- Our mission and vision (it would be posted on a wall)
- Our core values (posted as well)
- Our proposed new strategic initiatives
- A gap analysis (Where is there a problem of praxis at our church? What are the felt needs? What needs to be corrected by teaching?)
- And, of course, what God wants to specifically say to our church (hopefully determined by a guided prayer time with the team)
We would also balance and adjust our teaching calendar through another filter: “Army” talks (series that are mission-centered, “take-the-hill” focused), “School” talks (series that are doctrinal, creedal, or pure Biblical-literacy talks) and “Hospital” talks (growth-and-healing, soul care, self-awareness talks). Why? Because too much of one style can either (respectively) wear a church out, puff it up, or become too inward-focused. And most pastors will subconsciously default to one of these in their teaching style.
One simple reason for planning twelve months in advance is super-practical: other key ministries can plan events and seminars that match the topic. For instance, if we were doing a “Hospital” series—perhaps messages on developing authentic relationships—our Growth & Healing Ministry might plan small groups or classes at that time on that topic to tackle our relational dysfunctions. Anytime you can “preach” the announcements, your “extracurricular” events have more power, better response and provide a clear actionable point.
~Dave Workman | Elemental Churches