How to Leverage Annual Sermon Planning for Marketing Success

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It’s not uncommon to hear about pastors planning their sermons for the next Sunday service. But what if there was a more strategic approach that could build better discipleship among your congregation, enhance your marketing efforts, and take the stress out of writing a sermon each week? There is! It’s annual sermon planning.

We know a lot of questions are flooding your mind at this point, like…

This article will answer those questions and more, and it could significantly impact the growth of your church this coming year.  

Why Should You Consider Annual Sermon Planning?

According to Pastoral Care Inc, most pastors spend 10-15 hours a week on sermon preparation. It’s obviously one of the most important aspects of any church service since it educates members about their faith.

But sermons alone are not enough to make an impact on the congregation and their community. In fact, the same source above notes that 50% of pastors surveyed agreed that recruiting volunteers and encouraging member involvement are two of the biggest challenges.

In a survey by Ministry Pass, more than 60% of Pastors said they preached for 40 or more weekends each calendar year. Without adequate planning, this can lead to burnout or the loss of motivation and ideas to continue creating inspired sermons. 

Burnout can affect a pastor’s family and hinder discipleship. With annual sermon planning, pastors are freed up to pour into individuals, their families, and their personal time with God, renewing their strength and making them resistant to whatever lies ahead.

Planning your messages in advance can help with these struggles. 

And there are many other reasons annual sermon planning should be a vital part of your church marketing…

To Avoid Repeating Yourself

Creating a preaching calendar gives you the benefit of making sure that your sermons are dynamic. One of the reasons church members lose interest is that they no longer find value in the messages they hear.

Building an annual sermon plan enables you to closely inspect your sermons and the series of topics outlined throughout the year. That way, you can make each sermon unique and keep your members engaged during every service.

To Keep Gospel Concepts Fresh

Gospels are often repeated in yearly sermons. But have you considered a fresh take or perspective on that approach?

Annual sermon planning is the perfect opportunity to sit down and analyze a new approach to familiar gospels. It’s important to bring fresh insights to old concepts so your members can learn something new from them, especially as circumstances change within the immediate community. 

To Make Your Teaching Well-Rounded

Careful planning of sermons enables you to gain new perspectives on your teachings. On the other hand, being crunched for time and rushing through your sermon can make it feel uninspired and lacking in real-world value.

Planning gives you enough time to reflect as you create content for your sermons to expand the impact on the lives of your members and prospects. 

How Can This Approach Supplement Your Marketing Efforts?

As a pastor, you may feel like you have plenty of time to write your sermons. However, you must not overlook the fact that you have other ministry works to do, such as pastoral care, administrative tasks, and leadership development. With a deadline to meet, sermons can often become rushed.

This is a less-than-ideal approach when you want your church’s marketing campaigns to succeed. Hence, annual sermon planning is important to give you adequate time to brainstorm ideas, build focus on your sermons, and nurture your audience. 

Ensuring your marketing aligns with your sermons can go a long way. It’s simply a matter of doing the following:

Let’s take a closer look at how this approach can supplement your marketing efforts…

It Gives You Structure

Every year, your church probably plans out its budget and marketing plans. Why not do the same for your sermon content?

Annual sermon planning tells you what topics or themes to cover throughout the rest of the year and how to prepare. 

It not only gives you an idea of what to discuss during the sermon but also helps you integrate it into your overall discipleship plan. Therefore, you can focus on the themes that are most relevant to your overall campaign. 

It Gives You Focus

The Bible offers so many themes and gospels to discuss each week. A preaching calendar allows you to focus on the larger themes and then create a series of sermons based on that.

A sermon series creates maximum impact because it ensures continuity, creates more impact through your teaching, and helps you align your marketing throughout the year with your sermons. 

It Gives You Time to Brainstorm Ideas

For sermon planning to be more effective, it must involve the elders and key leaders within the church. If you are a pastor and all you have to think about is writing that sermon, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s happening within your community.

The other church leaders can pitch their ideas based on real-world situations affecting church members or the entire community. This allows you to brainstorm ideas to tackle issues that directly impact your target audience. And your marketing campaigns can apply the same concepts for consistency across the board. 

It Balances Your Teaching

A well-rounded sermon is important so that you can touch on various passages and themes. It allows you to explore topics that might not even be in your wheelhouse.

The diversity in your teachings and sermons enables you to target more people, not just those few that can relate to a specific theme or passage. That way, you can grow your church more swiftly and easily.

It Improves Engagement

Creating a yearly preaching calendar to guide your marketing efforts can also help keep your audience engaged. 

How?

You can roll out your campaign using social media, blogs, emails, and other suitable tactics. All these different channels and formats can give people an idea of what will be preached, get them excited about it, and encourage them to watch your service online. You can also create content for them while they watch so they can get more from it.  

You can then follow up with them about what was helpful, what they took away, how they will make changes according to the message, etc. This prompts engagement and provides valuable feedback. 

Ultimately, it’s about reaching your audience where they are, building up interest, and encouraging them to interact with you.  

5 Tips for Creating a Preaching Calendar Strategically

Man sitting cross-legged in a chair writing in a notebook as a concept for annual sermon planning.

Seeds take time to grow, and you can look at building a ministry in the same way. Careful planning will allow you to reap what you sow throughout the year. 

1. Review Your Past Year of Sermons

Before you begin with annual sermon planning, take a moment to reflect on your sermons over the past year. Examine the topics you discussed and ask yourself: 

Spending time to analyze what you’ve done in the past will help you move forward with a more effective strategy, adjusting what didn’t work, doing more of what did, and planning a new year of content that is even more dynamic. 

It can sometimes seem daunting to come up with a year’s worth of content, but your congregation can provide valuable insight. Listen to what they have to say in person and online. Ask about what challenges they’re facing in their lives and their faith journeys. Further, look at what’s happening in the world to source popular topics.   

All of this will make for an inspired calendar rich with ideas that benefit your entire community.

3. Plan Your Sermons Based on Seasons & Holidays 

This is where the advantage of annual sermon planning reveals itself. You can look 52 weeks ahead into planning, which enables you to see the big picture. You can pick out topics that are relevant to the seasons and holidays, making them timely.  

4. Don’t Plan Your Sermons Alone

Even if you’re the one speaking to your congregation, it’s important to get ideas and insights from other church leaders. Chances are, they have ideas they’ve come up with on their own or based on what they’ve heard from members. So, consider setting up regular brainstorming sessions with them. 

Also, work closely with the marketing team to ensure cohesiveness in your sermons and marketing campaigns.  

5. Leave Room for Flexibility

Even if you have a preaching calendar, it’s important to stay flexible. As we all know, reality shifts all the time. When something relevant comes up, it often makes sense to shift your sermon calendar along with it. Use it as a guide, always taking into consideration when certain changes need to be made.

Takeaway

Preaching involves a great deal of planning and strategy, and the more you are able to look ahead when doing so, the more you can align your messages with your marketing efforts. Annual sermon planning is a powerful approach used by successful churches, large and small.

If you want to remove some of the burdens of church marketing and get a better return for your investment, we are here to help. Learn how our church marketing agency can help grow your church! 

 


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About Shannon Kegerries

Shannon’s deep desire to help others is a trait that was developed early on, as she has always enjoyed seeing people, groups, organizations, companies, and families thrive and make positive changes that encourage growth in all areas. That combined with her love of learning is what drove her to earn her master’s degree in psychology and counseling from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. For more than 15 years, Shannon worked in a variety of settings as a behavioral, family, young adult, and group therapist. As a behavioral therapist and case manager who has worked with people from nearly all walks of life, Shannon has a knack for helping others reach their desired outcomes, which she applies to her work at Viral Solutions as a content marketer. In addition to possessing keen insight into what drives human behavior, Shannon strives to find various ways in which she can relay each client’s message and vision to their prospect so that it hits every angle and sinks into the prospect’s mind. Likening her role to that of a detective, Shannon enjoys gathering information about each client’s prospect and competitor, then fitting it all together with the client’s product/service as the answer to the problem. She is a StoryBrand Certified Guide.

When she’s not working, Shannon enjoys reading, skiing, painting, and spending time with her family.