Lessons From My First Year As A Lead Pastor – The Preaching Task



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I was in full time ministry from 1992-2013 before becoming a Lead Pastor. During those years I did my fair share of preaching but probably never preached more than 3 Sundays in a row.

Before I ever read the articles, read “Planning Your Preaching” by Rummage or listened to the webinars I was convinced with the importance of preaching in series.

Before moving to Town Centre Church I had my first series ready to go and that certainly made a difference to our first month at the church. While I am not an overly organized person waking up every Monday asking, “What should I preach on this Sunday?” is not a life I am interested in living on a regular basis. For those of you who can live with this tension, more power to you.

Here are 3 lessons regarding preaching from my first year as a Lead Pastor:


1) Leave some space in your calendar.

  • I originally planned to do a 7-week series on Colossians but I ended up going 10 weeks instead. Planning with flexibility is important.
  • A preaching schedule with no room for adjustment will feel like a noose around your neck and not give you the opportunity to respond to the unexpected that can happen during the year.


2) Take A Break With A Guest Speaker

  • As the solo Pastor I try and plan to have a guest speaker in between my series. This gives me a break but more importantly it gives the people a break from hearing me:)
  • Where do these people come from?
  • Is there a person in your congregation who can share?
  • Bring someone in from one of the ministries that you support.
  • Ask around and see if there are any retired pastors or pastors in transition that you could consider.
  • What about a Bible College student if here is a school close to where you minister?
  • Lastly, what about having one of your denominational leaders IF YOU DARE!!



3) Sacrifice To Stay Ahead

This is my biggest battle.  I have been 4 sermons ahead,  I have been finished on Thursdays, I have been finishing on Saturday and I have been doing final tweaks on Sunday morning.  I like being ahead:)

Whatever you have to do to get ahead (whatever that means for you) be like Nike and “Just Do It”.  Summer is a good time to accomplish this.  The peace of mind and time for more creativity will be worth the effort.

Here are some of the series I preached my first year.  Hopefully they spark some ideas for you.

  • “What Makes A Church Strong?” (Acts 2:42 – 4 Weeks)
  • “How Big Is God?” (Various Psalms – 4-weeks)
  • “Jonah” (4-Weeks)
  • “The Bible” (Hal Seed Material – 6-weeks)
  • “Sunday Morning Breakdown” (Worship, Communion, Preach, etc – 6-weeks)
  • “Parenting Children In A World of Entitlement” (3-weeks including guest speaker)
  • “Colossians” (10-weeks)


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Comments (5)
    • Rick says:

      Good post, Peter.

      Sounds like we may do something similar.  I like to have my sermon series planned out for the year.  I know every passage I’ll preach each and every Sunday before the end of the previous year.

      Trouble is, I’ve got some pushback on that approach.  I’be been told by a few (not many, I don’t think) that being prepared too far in advance doesn’t leave room for the Holy Spirit to move.

      Wondering what your comments would be to these questions… no pressure.

      What pushback have you received regarding your level of planning, and how have you responded to comments suggesting that it hinders God from moving in the moment?

      Besides leaving room for longer series lengths, what else have you done to add that spontaneous-and-in-the-moment feeling within your preaching schedule?

      Thanks for your post.


    • Peter Walters says:


      Thanks for the comment. Wow you are a great planner. I have never been a year ahead that’s for sure:) I have never gotten any push back from planning ahead but maybe that’s because I don’t tell people how far ahead I am:) There will always be a segment of people who think planning is an afront to the Holy Spirit that we all have to respond to with patience and grace. Here is an part of an article entitled “How to Plan A Program For A Church Year” by James Osborn from Ministry Journal International For Pastors. I hope this is helpful.

      “Some may feel that this plan leaves no room for the Holy Spirit to impress the minister as to his message on a given Sabbath. It is true that some event in pas­toral experience or some significant world happening may arise necessitating a change in the sermon calendar. Therefore any sermon year, like a railroad timetable, should be “subject to change without no­tice.- With this allowable flexibility, ample provision will be made for guidance of the Holy Spirit.

      On the other hand, the Holy Spirit is not limited to impressing one only in a time of crisis. He can influence a man in prepara­tion for his flock’s needs a year in advance as well as a week in advance.

      There is a school of thought which teaches that no arduous preparation is ever needed, that the Holy Spirit will give a message in the same hour. This is true to a degree. A sermon must never be so carefully planned that the Holy Spirit cannot find entrance. Sermon planning must not circumscribe His work. However, if the Holy Spirit is present in the preparation of the sermon it is not likely that He will be ab­sent in its delivery. He will create flashes of insight. He will develop spontaneity. He will add that mysterious something that drives the message home like an arrow to the heart.

      Perhaps it can be best illustrated by a story which Martin Niemoller enjoys tell­ing about Dr. Klaus Harms, the noted re­vivalist of northern Germany. Dr. Harms was visiting a conference of ministers. One younger member of the group said, “I per­sonally never prepare my sermons, because I am totally sure of my Lord and Saviour, and of the Holy Spirit, and I know that the words will be given me according to the promise.” To this Dr. Harms replied, “I am seventy-five years old and have preached for fifty years, but I must confess that all the time I stood in the pulpit not on one single occasion has the Holy Spirit spoken to me a single word. That is, except once. But he spoke to me often as I left the pulpit, and what he said was this, ‘Klaus, you have been lazy.’ “—The Pulpit Di­gest, December, 1952, p. 22.

      A planned sermon year leaves sufficient room for inspiration of the Spirit while it makes arrangements for perspiration. Inspiration without perspiration is gener­ally “without form, and void.” Perspiration without inspiration is lifeless. Like the bodies of Ezekiel’s dry-bone valley, there is no breath in it. But the two united produce a spiritual diet that will give life and vigor to any spiritual body. Perspiration provides the material. Inspiration sets it on fire.

      The conclusion of the whole matter is this: Planning your sermon year will help you develop into a workman who wins God’s approval, “a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, and who knows how to use the word of truth to the best advan­tage.”

      Here’s to better preaching.

    • Rick says:

      Good reply, Peter.  Thanks.

      I really connected with your comment “maybe that’s because I don’t tell people how far ahead I am:)”


      I think I’ve discovered that some people are not necessarily blessed by my level of prep… actually, I think it sucks the life out of some people.  Thankfully, most of the people I work with from day to day are empowered by it.  I’m finding that I can still be prepared, but I absolutely need to be cautious about who I release the details to, and when they are released.

      I’m just learning my way through this one.

      I think it follows what Andy Stanley’s getting at when he shares his principle “less to more” – communicate to more people, but only tell them what they need to know rather than telling them what others need to know.  … hope I got that right, because that seems to be where I’m headed.

    • Lessons From My First Year As A Lead Pastor – Investing In Your Worship Team – PeterWalters64 says:

      […] Lessons From My First Year As A Lead Pastor – The Preaching Task […]

    • Peter Walters says:


      I understand the struggle. When I get ahead I have trouble staying ahead because in my head I know I am ahead:)

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