Redeeming Life Church, a new church plant I pastor, is working through the Book of Romans. After looking at a number of outlines, reading the book a couple times, and filling a scratch page, I worked out 41 sermons through Romans. I've seen it done in 16 (each chapter becomes a sermon) and I've learned that R.C. Sproul did it in 58 sermons. John Piper did it in 225.
After I worked out the 41 sermons, I placed them on a calendar, keeping in mind special holidays and Sundays where we might not be in Romans. For example, we'll have three Christmas sermons from the Psalms. This gives me a good idea where I'll be at any given time.
In addition, it's our hope to have a some of our House Fellowship leaders and potential future elders preaching in this rotation. I personally do not believe the pulpit should be the responsibility of one man, so I'd like to have these other men preaching. Ideally, I'll preach about 50% of the year and these men will carry the other 50%. Having the sermons on a calendar for nearly a year out greatly helps them know what text they'll be preaching from and offers each man a great deal of time to prepare.
We do something else I've yet to see being done at other churches. Redeeming Life is introducing the text in our House Fellowships during the week. Many churches will preach on text and then community groups or small groups will have a discussion the following week on what was preached. Not us. The week prior to the particular sermon, the House Fellowship leaders discuss what will be preached. We believe this allows the Word of God to churn around a bit in the mind. The response, we pray, will be more significant because it's not brand new information.
The House Fellowship leaders are not teaching everything on the text, but instead, providing some initial thoughts and leaving some hanging questions. They are leaving room for the Holy Spirit to start working. Then the church hears more on the text the following Sunday.
The challenge our schedule presents is the need to have info to the House Fellowships one and a half weeks ahead of the sermon. I'd like the House Fellowship leaders to have time to pray over the text, work on some thoughts, and be prepared to lead a discussion.
So my schedule looks something like this: On the Monday before the sermon being preached in two weeks, I begin studying and gathering some initial thoughts. This continues on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, I write up some thoughts and questions to post on the Redeeming Life Church website as well as some additional material that's sent to the House Fellowship leaders. Then on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I look back to the study and materials I did the previous week and start working out the final details of the sermon coming that Sunday. The process continues the next week, and the next, and so-on.
My sermon prep is really a two-week process and I'm always working on two sermons at the same time. The advantage is how much I feel the sermons are interconnected from week to week. I also believe there's value having the church chew on a text for a week before it's preached. I suspect the call for a response to God's Word is more compelling when the hearer has been thinking on it for longer. I also feel this approach will greatly enhance our spiritual growth. That's not to say it doesn't come with challenges. It keeps me on my toes and I pray it will greatly improving my preaching.
If you're in the Salt Lake area, please be our guest. If not, you can still find more information at the Redeeming Life Church website: www.RedeemingLifeUtah.org.
*Photo of "Planner" by Flickr.com user, Nomadic Lass, is registered under a creative commons license and is used with permission.