Here’s Why You Need a Weekly Sermon Prep Schedule

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Here's why you need a weekly sermon prep schedule graphic

 

The days leading up to a sermon can be very stressful for a preacher. Your sermon content is on your mind constantly. The responsibility of preparing a sermon can be daunting because when Sunday comes you have to deliver. You need a plan, a guide, a schedule to keep you on track. Here’s why you need a weekly sermon prep schedule:

  1. So you can stay on schedule

As a preacher you never want to procrastinate and put off your sermon prep. But things come up and you have to deal with unexpected events. Your study gets interruped and it’s difficult to stay on schedule. A written sermon prep schedule is an objective measure. It can help you stay on track with your prep. If you get behind, you’ll know it. If you get ahead, you’ll know it. Sometimes writing the schedule down is half the battle. This helps you avoid scheduling other meetings on top of your most important preparation times.

  1. So your sermon prep doesn’t become all-consuming

It is easy to let the sermon become all-consuming. To let it become all you think about. To put other work aside so that you can focus on it entirely. There are times when the sermon content demands this kind of undivided attention, but if this is your norm then you will have an unbalanced ministry. This is especially true if you not only preach but lead as well. A leader buried in constant study is an inattentive leader. You want to be able to prepare sermons AND attend to the needs of your church. A sermon prep schedule allows you to pull away from the study and still be confident you’re on schedule.

  1. So you can build margin into your week

All of us need margin in our schedules. We need flexibility to deal with the unexpected. A sermon prep schedule allows you to plan your week in its entirety and keep enough room for the unplanned. If you make sermon preparation part of your nonnegotiable weekly tasks then it is less likely to get interrupted or pushed aside for other things.

These are the reasons why I have a written preparation schedule. It helps measure my progress and keep me on track.

What does a weekly sermon prep schedule look like?

I’ve listed out each day of the week with a brief explanation of what I complete regarding my sermon prep. Every pastor’s schedule is different, and every church has its own set of meetings and weekly schedules. But I want to show you my schedule so you’ll have an example of what one looks like:

(Prior to Monday I would have already began combing through the text. The preaching team would have already developed an objective and desired response for the sermon. And the sermon would fit into a series of sermons that we would have certain goals and objectives for.  I wrote about the preaching team dynamic here.)

 

Monday

Pray

Begin studying text

Preaching team meeting in the afternoon to discuss content

Begin first draft of outline and notes


Tuesday

Pray

No official prep. Let Monday’s study soak in. Chew on it.

 

Wednesday

Pray

Complete first draft my sermon notes

Begin building PowerPoint

Bulletin outline to communications team by 11:00 AM

Seek input from others (run though my outline and seek feedback)

 

Thursday

Pray

Finalize my notes

Finalize PowerPoint

Sunday walk through with service planning staff 1:30 PM

Rehearse sermon 2:00 PM (record for time)

Make necessary adjustments

Send final PowerPoint to media team


Friday

Don’t even think about the sermon. Not even for a second. I take a break.

 

Saturday

Pray

Rehearse one more time (usually in front of my wife because she gives super helpful feedback)


Sunday

Pray

Eat a good breakfast.

Preach.

 

What does your schedule look like? What have you found to be helpful in preparing your sermons?

 

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  • Huw P-davies

    And when does the sermon finally get prepared and what happens if you have two sermons to get ready for Sunday and a Bible study before then and a few shorter services during the week; a denominational alldayer on Tuesday and a surprise elders meeting thrown in at one of your furthest flung churches on Friday morning? This also in addition to some sarcastic remarks that someone has been home from hosital for a month and still hasn’t seen the minister !

    • Huw,

      I hear ya! Ministry can definitely get overwhelming at times. I’m not suggesting that it is easy to have a prep schedule, but it is really important. If the schedule you laid out in your comment is your typical week, then you are doing too much. That is the kind of schedule that leads a lot of pastors to burn out.

      What other leaders can you build up to take some of that load off of you? Do you need to teach that Bible study or could someone else? If you have two different sermons on Sunday could someone else preach the other one? If the elders are throwing surprise meetings at you could you ask them to respect your boundaries and plan them out better in advance? Could someone else go visit the person in the hospital?

      If your church depends on you preaching every sermon, teaching every bible study, being present at every meeting and visiting every sick person in the hospital, then I can see why the thought of having a schedule frustrates you. I would work on changing the culture in your church to be more of an equipping culture that empowers others rather than relying solely on you. Here’s a great book that explains how to do that: http://www.amazon.com/Me-We-Pastors-Discovery-Partnership/dp/0764434861/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1415154442&sr=8-2&keywords=me+to+we

    • LDavidH

      I know what you mean, except for the surprise elders’ meeting. I very rarely start preparing any sermon earlier than Monday, as I first need to “discharge” the ones of the Sunday before. And there’s the mid-week Bible study to prepare as well! (Not to mention writing comments on blogs… 🙂
      Most UK baptist churches are small and expect the pastor to do all the teaching and preaching – after all, that’s what they’re paying me to do!
      We’ve just gained a retired pastor as a member, and I have already had him preach once, but I know that I can’t do it too often…
      I still want to implement a schedule of sorts: I often set aside Thursday to write sermons and choose songs. But flexibility is the name of the game in a small church!

  • Jerry M.

    Preaching team meeting in the afternoon to discuss content….. What’s a “preaching team? God called the preacher and He will work through him, sounds like someone trying to come up with comedy instead of a sermon. Just my opinion but I prepare alone.

  • CurlyGirl4God

    I just found your site and I’m very excited to read through your posts and listen to your podcasts! I am a speaker for Christian women’s events and I am wondering how long the sermons are (in minutes) that you use this type of prep schedule for. It would be so helpful to know because I think perfectionism and fear might be making my prep time unnecessarily hard and long. It’s a fine line – I want so much to do a good job which means I could spend hours and hours preparing, but there has to be a limit or there is no life! Thanks for letting me know – that missing piece will be super helpful. God bless you and all you do for His kingdom. Lynne

  • Thanks so much for the practical tips on your week! I’ve really been looking at my week and the way I spend time. Thanks for the help!