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adding and subtracting from a preaching plan? – robyn mellar-smith


After five years as the main preacher in a church community, it was interesting recently to go back over those five years and map the different genres of Scripture I had preached from. I read this idea in “One Year to Better Preaching: 52 Exercises to Hone Your Skills” by Daniel Overdorf. In Week Two, Overdorf suggests making a tally of sermons preached over the last 3-5 years in these basic categories: Pentateuch (Gen.- Deut.), OT History (Josh.- Esther), Wisdom Literature (Job- S. of Sol.), Prophets (Isa.- Mal.), Gospels & Acts (Matt.- Acts), Pauline Epistles (Rom.- Phil.), and General Epistles & Revelation (Heb.- Rev.)

When I tallied five years’ worth of sermons, I found that I had preached fairly well across the different genres, twice as much in the New Testament as the Old, which I was reasonably happy with. The group where the tally was lowest for me was the Pentateuch, so that’s the next place I might do a decent series in.

How do you choose which part of the Bible you are going to preach in next?

Before I was a preacher, I was a song leader once a month or so in a Baptist Church. Upon discussion with other music leaders, I found that there was a variety of ways in which people picked their songs each week, from deeply seeking God for exact song titles, to looking at songs musically to see what segued together well, to choosing a bunch of songs while trusting that God was with you. Over my time as a song leader I travelled from the first group to the last, mainly because of time pressure and experience. I found that my song leading improved when I wasn’t so anxious about whether I was doing the exact song God wanted me to (for obvious reasons J)

So also when choosing passages to preach, I pray, I talk to our leadership team, I reflect together with my intern and then we choose some books or topics, trusting that God is with us and will guide us.

I do believe that it is helpful for the congregation to have balance across the various genres of the Bible, however spending some time in one of the Gospels each year is a priority for me as Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith (and so counter cultural!)

What about you? Whether you are the main preacher or a visiting speaker, how do you choose what you are next going to preach on?

How far ahead do you plan this?

Is there a book or genre you have been avoiding?

God bless you

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