Eight Strategies to Keep Sermon Prep Out of Your Summer Plans

Photo by  Sean O.  on  Unsplash

Photo by Sean O. on Unsplash

Have some great plans for this summer?

A vacation to enjoy? Novels to read? Baseball games to attend?

You don’t want sermon prep to weigh down your summer fun. Put these strategies to work, and you’ll be free to enjoy yourself when adventure calls!

1) Grab your calendar.

Update your calendar with all your vacations and events. Pad in some extra time for lounging by the pool or taking some extra long runs or sitting on the front porch with a neighbor.

Notice whether you have any preaching Sundays shortly after returning from time away.

2) Schedule a day to scan all the lessons for the summer.

Take one day to skim the summer Scriptures for the Sundays you’ll be preaching. Plan to spend about 20 minutes per each week’s set of lessons.

As you preview them, make notes about themes or stand-out messages. Notice especially what piques your interest.

Ask yourself: What’s the Big Picture of salvation history God wants your congregation to hear this summer? Look for the entire story arc revealed through the summer’s lessons.

Take frequent breaks to keep your mind fresh. This previewing should take about six hours in total.

3) Plan a second day to scan sermon prep resources.

After your day of lesson previewing, spend a day with your sermon prep resources. Review your notes to remember what most interested you, and dive into your commentaries and online resources to learn more.

You’re not going deep—you’re just getting the gist. You’re still looking at the Big Picture—like looking at the weather map for the entire country rather than the hourly radar for your specific location.

Take notes. What do you see? What’s most important?

4) Block off sermon prep time on your calendar for each week of the summer.

First, let me offer a reminder that preaching is one of your most important duties. With declining biblical literacy, fewer people know Scripture stories or what Christianity is all about.

But even for those in your congregation who do know, preaching is the most “Christian Ed” they’re likely to receive in a week.

Your sermon prep deserves, and your people deserve, all the time you can give it, so make it a priority.

How much time do you need to craft a sermon? Ten hours? Twelve? Fifteen?

Whatever the amount, add 25% so you have some cushion.

Put this time on your calendar and guard it as protectively as you would a pastoral care visit to the ICU because our world is in as dire straits as a patient in the ICU.

5) Plan for Those After-Travel Sermons.

 When scanning the sermons over the course of the summer, take special note of those Sundays right after you get back.

Go back to your calendar and block off extra hours to craft those sermons in advance.

Again, guard that time! Don’t give it away. The time and attention you give to sermon prep matter. So does your time away! It won’t be a true vacation if you have a sermon hanging over your head.

Planning and guarding your time is a gift to you and your congregation. Honor both by giving those after-vacation sermons the time they deserve before you travel.

6) Begin your sermon prep early in the week (Free resource: join us for Live Lunch Hour Lectio every Monday, 12-1:00 Central!).

By praying through the Scriptures early in the week, you’ll begin thinking of sermon possibilities Monday—with time to let your ideas ruminate through the week. You can even get a jump on your weekly sermon prep by joining us for Live Lunch Hour Lectio on Mondays.

At Backstory Preaching, we pray the RCL Gospel for the coming Sunday via Facebook Live on the Backstory Preaching Facebook page. You’ll join colleagues from across North America to get loads of ideas and capture new insights.

You’ll see the Gospel like you’ve never seen it before. And the community aspect may even make this time feel like a vacation from the grind.

7) Consider planning a sermon series

When looking at the entire summer’s lessons, you may discover a sermon series asking to be preached. A series could be one long series for the whole summer or a shorter one over just a couple weeks.

Planning a series simplifies sermon prep because you reduce the decisions that need to be made about each Sunday’s message.

Fewer decisions = less time spent on sermon prep = more fun time available.

A series will also make it easier to resume preaching after you travel. You won’t have to wonder what you’re going to preach about!

Want them to come back for the next part of the series? End each sermon with a cliffhanger! Ask a question that they just gotta get the answer to and the only way is to be present.

8) Learn to consistently protect your time and find joy in preaching, all while improving your sermons: The Backstory Preaching Mentorship Begins August 5th.

With support and instruction from The Mentorship, you’ll:

  • craft better sermons consistently

  • approach preaching with less stress and more joy

  • discover a sermon prep schedule that works for you

  • grow closer to God while engaged in sermon prep

  • find strategies to plan ahead and work more efficiently, whether you’re taking a vacation, preaching through Christmas or Holy Week, or generally trying to strike a balance between ministry and personal life

The Mentorship is for both seasoned and new preachers. No matter how recently you’ve entered the pulpit, you’ll refresh your preaching and sermon prep process and create habits that will feed and sustain your entire ministry.

Preach courageously.

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