Preaching Series: Part Two (Changing Your Preaching Plan at the Last Minute)

Ken has done an excellent job providing an overview of this important process! If I were going to add something to this discussion, it would be to have some safeguards in place for steering away from your preaching plan. Ken states, “We’re reminded that He [God] has complete prerogative to change the direction of the sermon and the part of His Word from which we are to preach, even if it’s at the last moment.” I haven’t had a chance to talk with Ken about this statement, so this may be a simple matter of semantics. However, I’m always uncomfortable with last minute changes to my preaching plan. I’m uncomfortable primarily because I don’t know how I would discern between God redirecting my sermon focus/text or my own personal agenda redirecting the focus/text. To that end, here would be my advice concerning changes to one’s preaching plan.

  1. Pray over your preaching plan. Ken has done an excellent job emphasizing this important aspect of preparation. Like Ken, I spend time each summer planning my preaching for the following year. It is during that time that I work to assess the needs of my congregation, determine the genres that I should be preaching, etc. Here, too, I seek to discern the Spirit’s guidance over my preaching plan.
  1. Arrange your plan. Once you have identified what books or series you will teach in a given year, you have the freedom to arrange them as you feel best. It is here that you have the most freedom to change in the middle of a year, although, the further a year progresses the less options you may have. My advice regarding changing the preaching plan is this: if you want to change your plan, move series -- not sermons. In other words, if you begin to believe that you need to tinker with your preaching plan, don’t swap sermons; rearrange the order of your series’. In this way, you remain consistent with your overall plan, and you protect yourself from poor preaching decisions.
  1. Preach your plan. If you have sought God’s face about the plan, and received affirmation from your Elders about it as well, then believe that it is God’s will for you to preach those sermons on the days assigned for them. Trust God to accomplish his purpose through them.
  1. Change your sermon in emergencies only. I only veer from preaching plan if compelled by an emergency situation: i.e., a disaster, a church tragedy, etc. For instance, after 9/11 I taught specifically about a Christian response to terror. When the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, I spoke specifically about a Christian response to sexual sin (all types). If a teenager dies in a car wreck or suicide, it’s a necessary time to address the Christians response to calamity in church life. Apart from these types of situations, however, I preach the plan that the Holy Spirit has confirmed in my heart and that of my Elders.

See the other parts of this series here: Introduction Part One

>>>What are some thoughts you have about changing your preaching plan? What  questions do you have? Please leave your feedback and comments below!

PreachingDr. Bill Curtis