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plan to be spontaneous? – jonathan robinson

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I have always had a preaching plan. In theory I have also always had the flexibility to be flexible about the plan if something comes up or the Lord leads me differently. I plan the next year’s preaching calendar in October/November. This means I know the congregation are getting a balanced diet of scripture from different testaments and genres. But it also makes me reluctant to mess with the plan. After all, if I cut in on that series on Philippians to do a special message I then either mess up that series or have to impose on another series to make up the time. Compounding the issue is working with a preaching team, as they need to be given their instructions in plenty of time. Last minute changes to the plan don’t go down well. (In this respect sole pastors have an easier life!)

Probably once or twice a year I will scrap the plan, either to preach on something that is pastorally necessary, e.g. responding to a tragic story in our community, or to share something that God has particularly burdened my heart with. Without fail those messages seem to impact the church the most, they seem to especially love the narrative: “I was planning to preach on X, but I feel I must preach on Y.” (I have to be careful not to overuse it.)

What I’m wondering is if I should actually plan in some spontaneity? I would be exhausted (and the congregation bored) if I had to pull a sermon out of nowhere every time I preached, but on the other hand planning the whole year seems to leave me overly restricted. So for 2015 I am planning more space for one off “unplanned” sermons. The bulk of the teaching will still be planned. We will still spend time in the law, the prophets, the gospels, the epistles, but I also want to – every now and then – be forced to pray: “God what am I going to preach on this week?” Not because the Holy Spirit doesn’t work in advance, my testimony from years of planning a whole year at a time is that the Holy Spirit seems to spectacularly arrange for the right message at the right time; but because it helps to keep me fresh and the congregation on their toes.

What do you think? Should we plan to be spontaneous?

 

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