How Many Times a Year Should a Pastor Preach

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The other day a church planter I coach asked me. “How many times a year should I preach?”

The answer to this question depends on the person, church, philosophy and what the person can handle. While most churches have one person who preaches the majority of the time (ie. 40-48 times a year), some churches have a team where people preach an equal amount of split in some fashion.

When we started Revolution Church, I preached 98 times in the first 2 years. This was partly because we didn’t have anyone else to preach, my desire to get better as a preacher, but also I felt the need to help set the tone of what our church would be like. This was tiring.

Now, the elders have set a goal for me to preach at least 40 times a year. This allows me to preach the most (which is important for the church, which I’ll talk about in a minute) and still develop other communicators. As I get older, I could see this number going down so others can be preaching and developing their gift.

I think it is important for a church to know the person who communicates regularly. This creates a normalcy to church, people know what to expect and they feel connected to a communicator.

The other question a pastor has to ask is how he will break his weeks up.

I’ve learned, my limit for preaching in a row is 10 weeks. Other guys it might be 8 or 13. Around week 10 I start to get incredibly run down mentally and spiritually and feel like my tank is low. I shoot to make sure I have a week off from preaching at least every 10 weeks. Some times I’m able to make that happen and other times because of the season of our church, I can’t.

One question a lot of young planters wrestle with is: when to take a break. 

Each year, before I put together my preaching calendar of topics, I pull out the school calendar (district in my area and the university of Arizona) and see when the breaks are. We run on a year round school system here so we get 6 weeks of summer instead of 3 months. This means we have random breaks in October and March when Tucson seems to shut down. These breaks are great times to have another person preach. The sunday after thanksgiving and the 4th of July, the Sunday of Memorial Day and Labor Day and the last Sunday of the year and the first Sunday of the year are great weeks to take off from preaching and have someone else do it (that’s 6 right there).

I also shoot for a 3 week break from preaching at some point in the summer. The benefits to this are enormous for you personally and your church. This is when I plan the next year of sermons, work ahead, work on my own soul and take a vacation with my family.

But what do you do on a week off?

For many pastors or people in their church, the idea of the pastor having a week off from preaching sounds like he is taking a week off from everything. This is an opportunity for you as a pastor to work ahead on sermons, think through a series coming up, meet with leaders to plan ahead or evaluate a ministry, go to a conference, take an extended spiritual retreat to be with Jesus.

If you aren’t proactive, you will waste these weeks off.

So, why do pastor’s preach too much and burnout?

For some, it is a pride issue. They don’t want to give up control of the pulpit. They think if they aren’t at church, it will cease to exist and fall apart. This gets to the heart of who is building your church, you or Jesus.

For some pastor’s, they truly don’t have anyone else who can handle it. This is a tough spot to be in. You can use a video sermon from a pastor of a large church like Craig Groeschel or Andy Stanley (we do that once a year simply to expose our church to some great speakers and authors that I think would benefit them).

The bottom line is, you get to choose this as a pastor. The choice you make though has an enormous affect on your health and the health of your church.

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Cheap Kindle Books [12.10.13]

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Here are some cheap kindle books. Not sure how long they’ll stay that way:

Here are a bunch of John Ortberg’s books that are all $2.99:

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. How to use Evernote to keep track of everything. I love Evernote. It is the app I use more than anything else.
  2. Craig Groeschel on 4 things every leader should know about their staff.
  3. A father of 8 talks about the looks and comments he gets and what it reveals about our culture and families. I get these a lot, so I can relate.
  4. Scott Williams on The power of naps.
  5. 12 costs all leaders must be willing to pay to be successful.
  6. Jay Yarow on How 18-29 year olds view the use of technology. This is pretty eye opening and will have huge implications on life and ministry into the future.
  7. How to pray for your city.
  8. Charles Stone on 5 telling questions to ask at your next staff meeting.
  9. Sam Storms on Does God want you to be happy?
  10. Thom Rainer on How to be a better church staff member.

Saturday Afternoon Book Review: Take the Lid off Your Church

Just finished reading Tony Morgan’s new book Take the lid off your church. What I love about Tony’s books is how short they are. This one clocks in at about 30 minutes to read it.

In it, he answers these basic, but important questions about the leadership team of a church:

  • When should you begin building a senior leadership team?
  • What are the roles of this team?
  • Who should be on the senior leadership team?
  • How does this team empower other leaders in the organization?
  • What should the senior leadership start and stop doing? What’s their focus?

Who is on a leadership team at a church is the most important decision a leader of a church makes. This team will decide how money is spent, how ministry is done, how people are cared for, how the vision and values will be passed on and ultimately, they will determine the health of a church.

The rest of the church will take its cues from this team. The leaders of a church and the leaders on the senior leadership team of a church will define a church.

Now, if you are looking for a lengthy book on team and leadership, this isn’t the book. I can’t imagine a pastor who has time for that book. This one is short, practical, right to the point and reads like a collection of incredibly helpful blog posts.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like
  1. Craig Groeschel on Disrupt rhythms strategically.
  2. Someone needs to stop Pat Robertson.
  3. Darrin Patrick on Loving your wife and the mission.
  4. Men, here’s the most important meeting of the day.
  5. Mac Lake on The reason your church lacks leaders. Like all things in a church, if you want something to happen, you must be intentional.
  6. A kind wife.

My Notes from the WCA Global Leadership Summit

So many great leadership nuggets at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit last week. If you missed it, or a session, here are all my notes from it.

What was your biggest takeaway from the summit?

For me, it was the 6X6 idea from Bill Hybels, game changing.

My Notes from Day 1 of the Leadership Summit

In case you missed them, here are my notes from day 1 of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

What was your biggest takeaway from day 1 of the summit?

Leadership Summit Session 4 | Craig Groeschel

Craig Groeschel wrapped up the first day of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit with a talk titled “The Strongest Link.”

Craig is the Founding and Senior Pastor of Lifechurch.tv, a pioneer in multi-campus church, LifeChurch.tv holds 76 weekly worship experiences, ministering to over 40,000 people. They are known for leveraging technology to reach a new generation, including the development of LifeChurch’s popular YouVersion Bible App.

He is the author of It, The Christian Atheist, Weirdand Soul Detox

Here are some highlights I grabbed from his talk:

  • My advice to older pastors, don’t resent, fear or judge the next generation. Believe in them because they need you.
  • If you aren’t dead, God isn’t done with you yet.
  • You don’t just delegate tasks, you create followers. You delegate authority to create leaders.
  • Authenticity trumps cool.
  • Younger leaders need older leaders to come alongside of them. Don’t be prideful, you need older leaders.
  • The younger generation is known as entitled.
  • When you’re entitled, you overestimate what you can do in the short run, but you will underestimate what you can do through a lifetime of faithfulness.
  • Honor given publicly leads to influence privately.
  • You’re husband might not be honorable because you don’t show him honor. Honor is given, respect is earned.
  • We have to be intentional about creating opportunities to learn from one another
    • Create ongoing feedback loops from those who are older and younger than you
      • Allow those in other life stages to speak into your message before giving it
    • Create specific mentoring moments
    • Create opportunities for significant leadership development
  • The next generation believes in themselves more when the older generation believes in them
  • If you are younger, honor those who went before you.

What was your biggest takeaway from this session?

Lots of Cheap Kindle Books 4.18.12

There are a ton of great kindle books for cheap today:

$2.99

$3.49

$3.82

$3.99

$4.99

Links of the Week

  1. Leaders you need to be following on twitter. If you are leader, you should be following the people on this list.
  2. Developing as a preacher. If you want to become a better communicator, read this.
  3. Rediscovering the old fashioned shave. I have to admit, I’m intrigued by this.
  4. Thom Rainer on The lifecycle of a pastor. Helpful stuff for pastors and churches and why some are effective and others aren’t.
  5. Are you in better shape than the average man?
  6. Craig Groeschel on How a pastor trains his church. This is solid stuff.
  7. 23 reasons for rapid church growth.
  8. Reading is one of the things that sets great leaders apart.
  9. Michael Hyatt on 10 mistakes leaders should avoid at all costs.
  10. What we organizations can learn from the leadership of Steve Jobs.
  11. Kevin Eikenberry on 10 great morning habits.
  12. If you are a parent, you need to read this.
  13. Al Mohler on Abortion is as American as apple pie. This is pretty eye opening.
  14. What we can learn from Newt Gingrich’s marriages.
  15. Russell Moore on The gospel in an abortion culture.