If you’ve been a part of a healthy team, you likely don’t need to be convinced about how valuable and essential teams are for the success of not only each individual, but the overall mission you are collectively trying to accomplish. Teams always benefit the organization as a whole. Healthy teams – especially preaching teams – offer a variety of benefits both personally and collectively.
Importance of a Preaching Team
A preaching team can offer you (and everyone else for that matter) a healthy balance of responsibilities, which is a good example of both a personal and collective benefit. It can be taxing to carry the weight of responsibilities of any single project on your own. This also means the project can suffer tremendously because you are likely being spread too thin and unable to give 100% effort to your tasks.
|A well balanced and thought-out preaching team offers you the ability to give more effort on fewer responsibilities, helping you to work smarter and more efficiently.
It also allows you and the rest of the individuals on your team the ability to focus in on your God-given natural giftings. Let’s face it, we can’t all be excellent at spreadsheets and creative thinking, vision casting and budget planning.
We’re usually really good at a few things so it’s best to concentrate on those so that we can perfect our area of skill and then offer our expertise, allowing others to do what they do best. This is a win not just for you but for the entire church; your staff and guests will definitely benefit as well.
Building Your Preaching Team
When you think through bringing others on to your preaching team, it’s important to think strategically. You’ll want a good balance of individuals who are both equipped to preach and speak into the overall planning and offer unique perspectives that are different than your own.
Part of this process is thinking through what your natural gifts and talents are and seeking out people who will bring other areas of expertise to the discussion. If you struggle to be organized or a detailed planner, someone with these natural tendencies can offer a lot of healthy perspective and bring some organization to your planning and preaching calendar.
Alternately, you may need someone who isn’t afraid to dream big and help challenge your future planning. That person will look at all angles and strategically assess what your sermon planning lacks in an effort to fill those gaps.
When you surround yourself with a staff encompassing a unique variety of strengths and giftings, you are able to work more efficiently by focusing your time and energy into your pastoral role. When other, capable leaders own different responsibilities, you are able to invest more of yourself into your specific work.
The same is true for your staff. When people work in their lanes, the collaborative approach is more effective because it’s easier to delegate who does what to accomplish a unified goal.
When people do what they enjoy doing and are equally skilled in that area, the work becomes more effortless and enjoyable all around.
|Healthy and well balanced teams produce well thought-out work that will ultimately benefit not just you and your staff, but your church as well.
The overall goal of your preaching team is to build a diverse group of individuals – made up of different ages, backgrounds, talents, and perspectives – who will come together with a common vision and be united in the overall mission of the church. When these pieces align, your team works together and, because of the different voices represented, is able to reach different groups and demographics, ensuring you’re speaking to everyone in the room.
This is when your church will start reaching a broader audience within your community.
You may read this and ask “this is great, but what if I’m part of a small church and don’t have the staff to build a preaching team?” The reality is that for many churches the preaching team may only consist of a lead pastor who preaches the sermon on the weekends – and that’s okay! If preaching is solely your responsibility, there are still ways to incorporate a team mentality to help bring balance to your preaching calendar and church planning.
Here are a few types of individuals you can reach out to and incorporate into your preaching team.
Guest Speakers are a great way to incorporate some different angles to your preaching. When you introduce a new speaker, you provide a unique and fresh perspective to your audience, which allows them to hear the message through a different filter.
Another benefit of a guest speaker is that it will allow you the ability to schedule intentional rest during the year. Having a weekend off once in a while is not just good for you and your family, but healthy for your growth as a pastor.
Additionally, guest speakers are a great resource for you as a pastor to gain insight and learn from. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you have the same rhythm day in and day out. Allowing yourself to hear how another speaker prepares and delivers a sermon can provide fresh insights you can gain from.
So where do you start if you want to line up guest speakers for your congregation?
This may consist of other preachers you’ve networked with along the way, friends, and even other business professionals who may have the gift of teaching and a passion for Jesus.
Think through names of friends and/or colleagues that have preaching experience. Do you have a list of pastor friends who are currently working in or out of ministry you might consider? What about anyone you’ve seen preach locally who you think would be a good fit?
Make a list of people who come to mind and start there. For those you are unacquainted with, consider reaching out and mentioning a mutual reference. Offer to meet them for coffee and let them know you’re looking for guest speakers as you build a preaching team. If they are unable or unavailable, they may know someone who is!
If you are a small preaching team or a team of one, you may consider building a team of deacons – those within your congregation you could appoint to a lay leadership role. These are often individuals who work outside the church, but want to give their time serving on the church board and offering leadership counsel to the preaching team and pastors.
Consider a handful of individuals in your church you trust and who are aligned with your mission, vision, and values. Think strategically about their gifts, the different insights they’ll bring to the table, and whatever other criteria you may be looking for as you build your group of Deacons.
Seminary Students are an excellent group to bring into your preaching team. They are eager, looking for a place to develop their skills, and most likely will offer a younger and fresher voice to ministry at your church.
Students can educate your team just as much as you’ll be able to educate and mentor them, and their perspective will help speak to a broader audience in your congregation.
Local Bible College Professors
You may or may not be connected to your local educators, but these can be great resources for you to tap into. Many times, Bible professors live full time in the teaching world and are open to creative outlets to use their gifts. Because they are skilled in teaching and come with experience, preaching on the weekend isn’t too far outside of what they are already doing and it gives them a different platform to share their research.
Educators will also bring a unique perspective in their approach to how they communicate the sermon, and this can be a great addition to your preaching team that will help you broaden your reach.
Doing a Pulpit Swap with Another Local Church
This is such a great option for churches trying to grow their leadership and also build a preaching team.
It grows your leadership because you will be stretched and challenged when you branch out and serve another congregation with a different type of leadership. As you pray and ask God to teach you new things through this experience, always look at these unique opportunities as a chance to grow and learn.
A pulpit swap can also help you build your preaching team through the power of networking. You will connect with other pastors and teachers, learn how others are handling growth and leading teams, and find new perspectives that you may want to apply to your own church.
It’s a win-win scenario because you, as pastors, can build a collective group of trusted individuals that you can turn to when you just need to process out loud or are seeking advice.
Establish Your Planning Rhythm
Once you’ve put a team in place you can determine how you will conquer your sermon planning and preaching calendar. This can look very different depending on the size and scope of your preaching team, how your church is set up, your location, and personal preferences, keeping in mind that it’s important to do what works best for your church.
|One helpful way to go about your planning is to create a planning schedule that allows for long-term vision casting but is followed up with shorter, more regular planning sessions that are more focused and dialed in.
Determine Your Preaching Schedule Approach
It’s important to be intentional about your planning or your overall vision won’t happen and some of those less attractive topics (such as giving, political, or any topic that can strike an uncomfortable chord with some individuals) won’t always make it on your schedule. Determine what your priorities are for the year ahead and make sure to fit it in.
Your long-term preaching and planning schedule can look a variety of ways.
- Yearly Big-Picture Preaching Retreat
- Quarterly Sermon Planning Meeting
- Monthly or Semi-Monthly Detailed Series Planning Meeting
These are just some examples of a thought-out sermon planning schedule and it’s likely that even a combination of these ideas would be appropriate for your church as you begin attacking how you manage your sermon planning.
Before you determine your schedule, it’s important to think through a few things as you dive in.
Consider the methods of planning and what works best for your team. Whether you are a team of many or one, look at the rhythm of your church and determine what the best method of attack will be.
If you have an in-house team of leaders who are invested in the mission and the pace of the church moves quickly, consider a yearly planning retreat. This could be done on an annual basis where the group is intentional about getting away with the main purpose of landing a preaching plan for the next quarter, ½ year, or even the full year ahead.
If your team consists of colleagues from other churches, Bible professors, lay leaders, etc., maybe a weekend retreat is harder to pull off. In this case, consider a quarterly meeting that lasts half a day. Plan ahead and get those you want to have decision rights in the room.
Determine Your Planning Meeting Goals: What Needs to be Accomplished
Once you have your meeting schedule determined, consider what actually needs to be accomplished in your planning meetings. The purpose of this is to cast vision for the year ahead and land your sermon topics, themes, initiatives you will focus on and when, and land any major routine events and where they fall on your preaching schedule.
Rhythm of the Year
Consider seasons and when your regular congregation numbers are up. This will speak into when you may have more visitors looking to attend church. When are the local schools taking breaks? What is a typical travel time in your area? Note any and all major holidays, especially those when people are out of town.
Are there certain topics you will teach on that are more internally focused where you’ll be addressing current members of your congregation? Maybe a giving topic would fit in here, updates on the status of church business, topics related to deepening your faith, etc.
Here’s an example of a Giving series that focuses on the fact that God owns it all – we are just stewards of what He has given us.
What about topics that are seeker-friendly, or geared toward someone who doesn’t know Jesus yet? Will you be discussing the history of your faith, topics that are relatable to everyone (i.e. relationships, forgiveness, boundaries, etc.)?
These should be planned for times of the year where your attendance is up and you are more likely to have guests checking out your church. You can even do more targeted marketing around these particular series’ as you have them planned.
This is a great example of a series about healthy relationships that unpacks how every individual will benefit when they seek God-honoring relationships by walking in grace, humility, and forgiveness. This is a great topic that both church and non-church people would connect with and should be planned during a season when your church sees a higher percentage of visitors.
Focused Topics or Initiatives
Are any of your preaching series or sermon content going to be focused on any sort of theme or program launch? For example, if you are doing a small groups push, maybe your series gearing up to that is very focused on getting people connected to groups. Consider the timing of this series and where it should land on your calendar and how it correlates to when small groups are meeting.
What about a serving initiative? There should be regular times in the year when volunteer recruiting is intentional. Maybe you’re gearing up for a busy fall or winter and doing a volunteer push in the weeks leading up to that is something your team might consider.
The High Call of Serving
In this series, you focus in on the fact that we are all called to serve others. It focuses on getting people out of the world’s way of self-service and self-promotion and becoming more focused on others. This series is a good example of how your church could tackle a serving initiative and encourage your congregation to get involved by filling a need within your church.
Missions or outreach is another area you’ll want to think through. Some churches make missions an accessible option on a regular basis while others may choose to highlight missions on certain weekends throughout the year. Focus on what makes the most sense for your church, how that aligns with your overall mission, and then decide how this best fits into your preaching calendar.
Events and Classes
Another piece to consider as you plan out your year is the events and offerings you are going to be organizing in the next year. Baptisms are a perfect example of a regular event that churches offer. These are typically offered on a regular basis, but the frequency can vary depending on the size and scope of your church. Are these monthly, quarterly, more or less often? Consider where these are landing and how it ties into your preaching and planning. Be intentional especially with baptisms!
Does your church organize special events like Night of Worship? If so, how often? What about summer camps for kids and students? These are important to recognize at the beginning of the year because it will determine how you shape your preaching content and also help your team be conscious of the different offerings taking place. You don’t want to have competing events that you’re talking about all at once – this tends to just add noise and take away the impact that any of these can have when they stand on their own.
Additionally, consider any groups or classes being offered that are pretty routine at your church. Think through marriage and/or parenting classes, recovery groups, financial classes, and any other type of groups you may have going on. How can your preaching content help support the launch of these groups and set them up for success?
|Your preaching is not only there to educate and inspire people on the Word of God, but it’s also a tool to take people to a deeper level – one that moves them from attending a church service on the weekend to being an active participant in the body of believers who is focused on a deeper relationship with God and others.
As you map out where these land on the schedule, consider all these different angles and how your preaching calendar can best support and communicate the message and how they can go deeper by connecting on another level at your church.
Communicate the Plan
As a preaching team, it’s easy to take what you know, learn, and ultimately decide as a team for granted. Remember, people only know what they know. If they aren’t sitting in that room with you when you do your preaching calendar and sermon planning, the rest of your staff will have no idea what your vision for the year is.
Don’t assume, either, that your vision is going to get passed down clearly and effectively. Make sure that you set up your staff and volunteer leaders for success by giving them a window into the direction you are going with your sermon content and preaching calendar.
If you have special areas of focus this year, initiatives that are important to you, or dreams you want to share with your church, bring your staff in on some of that info. They don’t need to know every detail of your planning or the ins and outs of what was decided and why, but they do need to know where you’re headed so they can follow and support that mission and vision.
In addition, don’t forget to communicate any changes that take place in your planning calendar so that you can keep them in the loop. There is lots of behind-the-scenes work happening that you may be unaware of – work being done to support your plan. Letting your team and ministry leaders know when changes have been made communicates that you value their work and respect their time and efforts.
Make sure your preaching team is meeting regularly and not just once a year or quarter for vision casting and broad calendar planning. Meeting on a more consistent basis won’t look like a half-day planning session, but maybe more intentional and targeting catch-up meetings that happen once every 1-2 months. This keeps everyone in line and allows you to iron out details. Remember, details typically become more clear as they get closer.
This is also important with growing organizations that are always changing. Keep in mind that a growing organization also has to adjust its procedures to properly accommodate all the change. Additionally, if you gain or lose people on your team, you will likely need to make adjustments to what your planning meetings look like.
At the end of the day, remember that your preaching calendar is just a guide (and should be communicated as such!). It’s very likely things will change – in fact, expect that. Use your preaching calendar as a helpful tool that will equip your church staff and work to align and organize your preaching team. It is a resource designed to help you and your team and set you up for success.