Matt Adair: How To Build A Sermon Planning System

Do you know where you're going?  Knowing where you're going is one of the secret weapons of preaching. And it goes a long way in determining whether you keep your head above water...or drown.

How do you do this? How do you plan ahead and avoid living sermon-to-sermon, or series-to-series?

Here are 4 elements to a healthy sermon planning system:

1. Use an annual preaching calendar. 

Use a spreadsheet and add some columns for the date of the sermon, the text you're preaching, and your main point. Bonus points if you include columns for sermon series and notes - who's preaching, special events or holidays, etc.

Plan 6-12 months in advance and take the guesswork out of what you're preaching for the rest of the year.

2. Build a preaching team.

Find 2-4 other people who help with research and sermon building, as well as occasionally filling in for you. Meet weekly, invest in their development, and ask them to help you.

Inviting others to help you preach is an investment in the long-term health of your church. 

3. Preach the gospel in every message.

What is the good news in this text? Displaying that in a clear and compelling manner is your job as a preacher. And regardless of the text, preaching the gospel is your goal. Every time you preach.

The distinguishing mark of Christian preaching is that the gospel is the message that is communicated. Make this your aim - the gospel from any text in every sermon.

4. Preach to your context.

While the gospel message in the Bible is timeless and true in every culture and generation, it is nuanced enough to speak into the particular world that your church inhabits. When you can translate and show how what is always true is absolutely true for you and your people, your message comes alive.

God has not asked you to preach to everybody. There are unique stories and situations in the lives of the people you lead that demand precision in your illustration, explanation, and application of the Scriptures.

Matt Adair is a coach with CourageToLead. He loves helping pastors live and lead healthy lives and ministries. Emphasizing the importance of simple and sustainable systems, Matt has helped hundreds of pastors experience breakthroughs mentally, physically, relationally, spiritually and vocationally.

Matt has been the lead pastor of Christ Community Church ( in Athens, GA since 2004. He knows churches and he loves pastors, and he would  love to coach you.