Scott Hodge


’08 Teaching Calendar Planning – Part 3

Dec 4, 2007

Ok, long overdue…..  Sorry. 

This is the third post in a series of three where I’ve been sharing some of the scoop on how we worked through our 2008 sermon series planning.  In my first post, I talked about who, where & what.  The second post was what our agenda looked like. 

In this last post, I want to throw out a couple of thoughts on how we went about planning out the actual topics and themes. 

After reviewing our calendar, identifying the “biggie” dates and seasons, we were finally able to identify what sort of time frames we had to work with.  (i.e. How many “5-week” series slots, “3-week” slots, etc…).

It’s important that I mention that topics and themes are a regular part of my thinking and journaling throughout the year.  I spend a lot of time reading, praying, journaling and thinking about where God might want to take our church community in the future; specifically in terms of how we utilize the 52 weeks a year we have to explore and journey through these topics. 

More often than not, each series we do is almost always something that was birthed in my heart quite some time ago.  Sometimes those topics/ideas spend months or even years being developed in my heart before they are actually developed and planned out by our team. 

Although I recognize that ultimately I am responsible for where we journey as a church, there are times when ideas and themes come from others on our creative planning team.  I do not dictate every series idea/theme.  However, when it’s a series that I am doing the majority of teaching in, it has to be something that I’m really passionate about in my heart.  I’m not very good at just throwing out a topic and doing it just because it’s a popular theme or because everyone else is doing it.  Actually, that’s all the more reason why NOT to do it as far as I’m concerned. 

So during our planning retreat, when it came time to brainstorm ideas, the majority of this was me reading and sharing different ideas out of my journals that I have personally been journeying through for quite some time.  As I did this, we began seeing several themes and topics emerge that were obviously things that God had been stirring my heart about.

As we made our list, we really tried to bring a balance to how and where these topics would land throughout the year.  We tried to look at the 12 months before us and ask ourselves, “How do we journey our community through these topics in a way that will maximize the impact in all of our lives?” 

For us, the key is balance.  Since some series tend to weigh heavier on the “felt needs” side (i.e. parenting, marriage, relationships, etc…) and others tend to be more on the “theological” side (i.e. purpose of the church, doctrine, spiritual growth, etc…) we really tried to balance the year out so that there weren’t too many “theological” weeks in a row or too many “felt need” weeks piled on top of one another. 

After walking away from this planning time, there were a couple of things I was reminded of:

“Relevant” does not mean right.

Just because a topic might be relevant, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for us right now with where we’re at as a church.  We have to constantly ask ourselves questions like, “What is God doing at The Orchard right now?”  “Where are we at as a church community?”  “What does God seem to be trying to say to us as a church?”  “What season are we in as a church?”

I am convinced that we MUST be aware and sensitive to what God is doing in our churches at all times.  This becomes an important element in planning our each series.   

Everything is subject to change.

As we move forward with our series calendar in place, our hearts and ears remain WIDE OPEN for wherever God may want to take us – even if it means canning a series idea and changing it up at the last minute.  (This doesn’t happen often, but it has and probably will again.

Ok, wow… This post has gotten much longer than I planned.  I’m going to stop there.  Hope this is helpful.  If anything, it is for me!  :)   I’ll do another post later and share some of the topics/themes we are planning over these next few months.  I can’t wait!!  It’s going to be an awesome year ahead at The Orchard

4 Responses to “’08 Teaching Calendar Planning – Part 3”

  1. Great series, Scott. “Relevant does not mean right” is a great phrase!!

  2. Jake says:

    Thanks for sharing this info. Very insightful.
    Question. You said “because it’s a popular theme or because everyone else is doing it…” is “all the more reason why NOT to do it…”
    Just wondering why you say that. Don’t you think God ultimately leads the church body in the same direction? Of course each church has a different approach/style/belief system, but ultimately I think God leads His entire body in the same direction despite the differences of each church. Don’t you? Not that everything is the same, but some of the big issues.

  3. Flaviu says:

    wow, thanks man for sharing this info with all of us. planning ahead and thinking journey is all i’m about. doing it is another ball game. thanks for talking HOW’s and WHY and all your good stuff.
    i appreciate you bro!
    stay warm and light them candles!!

  4. Travis says:

    Thanks for putting this info out there – this is my first year (four months actually) pastoring, and we just had our first big idea meeting last night. Came out with a group of 12 and 10 great ideas emerged – your posts were just in time to help me frame the meeting…thanks again.

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