Some thoughts on a New Years Sermon Planner

saint-paul-preaching-in-athens-3511-mid1. Preach, ordinarily, sequentially through books, or least chapters of larger sections. This should form your extended series with others series brought in to add variety and different sorts of Biblical vitamins to the spiritual diet of the saints.

2. Recognizing Church Year turning points, through the year, will give your people a more varied diet of Scripture on their spiritual plate, as you pause from your sequential-through-the-book preaching to recognize, say, Pentecost.

3. Do also collate in a New Years sermon (a single sermon on trusting God, heaven, honoring the past and building for the future, etc). Consider the Masters as you do.

4. Do include a Lenten (you may call it something else if that is preferable) sermon series (e.g., John Chapter 17). This series, actually another expositional series for the spiritual nourishment of the saints, would last until Palm Sunday (or quite possibly even Maundy Thursday).

5. Do plan for special national days where the Gospel can apply to the very things on your congregation’s mind. For example, I advocate preaching a Mother’s Day message. It can be expository. It can be focused on the redeeming work of Jesus, but recognize what is on the mind of the flock and yet direct them to Jesus. Skip a few Mothers’ Day references, at least, in your sermon, and you will be viewed as insensitive to the family. Don’t like it? Well, your people are “marking time” each year, and most of that, thankfully, is through the Church Year, but there are also some “common grace days” (perhaps one way to think about it) that are shaping their lives. Remember them; inform them with the Word of God, and you both will be the healthier for your thoughtful efforts.

6. Do begin the fall with a doctrinal series that will move your flock, over a period of time, through the essentials of the Christian Faith. For me, I begin with the Westminster Confession of Faith. For instance, on Scripture, which is the first heading in our Confession, I have preached a six-week series on Psalm 119. That Psalm, as you know, is all about the Word of God. Certainly not an exhaustive study, but nevertheless, our people could be grounded in the truth that all other revelation about God and Man begins with the Bible itself. Because it would take 30 years to move through all of this (in my own plans, I sought to do the Lenten study and the fall study in this way and thus have two major doctrinal sections each year; having said that, obviously, if you are preaching in an expositional approach, and I trust you are, and sequentially you will deal with all of the doctrines of your confession over a much shorter period, but these series which I suggest are concentrated and similar to the old Book of Common Prayer homilies or the Dutch tradition of preaching through the Heidelberg Catechism each Lord’s Day).

7. Do include an Advent series on some aspect of the Incarnation. Take Christmas back!

8. Do use your bulletins to communicate to your people about the worship service, the confessions, and your own prayers over the message and the service. We should, if at all possible, include a veritable Guide to Worship Today in our bulletins.

9. Do take good study leave apart from your family vacation. You need time alone with God in prayer to move through the year, and to plan even further out than that.

10. Do communicate your sermon planning to your musical staff, your elders or deacons, the Director of Christian Education, and anyone else that is impacted by your planning. Coordinating teaching of the Word is a great blessing in a local church. And remember: The teaching of the Word of God to your people is not the responsibility of others. It is your responsibility as the God-ordained pastor of that flock. And to get that flock home to the Master you have only the ordinary means of grace at your disposal, Word, Sacrament and Prayer. But my beloved pastoral brother, that is all you need.


Enjoy your New Year sermon planning. And may that free you up to then enjoy your week-to-week sermon preparation.


About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
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