Planning Your Sunday Morning Talks 3 Years Out

     Wanna know how to have a three year teaching plan for your Sunday mornings? Tired of thinking of the next best thing every quarter (or OOPS every Saturday night)? Make your Saturday nights fun again and take your stress level down a notch or two by planning way ahead. You can make Sunday morning message planning a breeze by planning in chunks of 3-4 years and starting over every time you graduate kids out of your ministry. Seem impossible? Nope, it only gets easier! I work with middle schoolers, and our ministry has them for 3 years, so we do a 3 year rotation of Sunday morning messages. So basically, Scott, our Middle School Pastor, does a great job of developing and then re-using the same sermon series, starting over every 3 years. Of course he changes them up a bit and keeps the content current. 

     The first step is for you to take the time to sit down and ask yourself what are the topics, scripture passages, and foundational truth you want your students to know before they leave your ministry? One youth ministry professor I had years ago suggested calendaring 1/3 Old Testament 1/3 New Testament and 1/3 Topical/Seasonal (Like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines, current events) each year as a general planning strategy. The second step is to get out a calendar and jot those down, leaving room for church holidays, guest speakers, camp, etc. and plan your topics. Combine some of those into a series, so you can have more time to tackle more lengthy content. Now write on a blank calendar ALL of your topics/themes/series, yep ALL of them for 3 or 4 years. If you need ideas, go online and look at some of the following websites (there are a ton more, these are my faves):
     This does not meaning writing all of your talks right now nor buying anything. You are taking time to figure out the general scope and sequence for 3 years, not trying to purchase a curriculum right now. Once you have your message topics and themes planned, you can shop around for curriculum to assist if needed. Many curriculum publishers have a 3-4 year scope and sequence you can look at online (here is one you can peek at). 

      In our middle school ministry, we are subscribers to Group LIVE Curriculum and use it for our mid-week small groups. Our small group leaders LOVE it and I love how easy LIVE makes it for me to develop a long term teaching plan.  For Sunday mornings, we use the search feature on the LIVE Curriculum to help with message prep. If my scope and sequence has me teaching on the major themes from the book of James this month,  I can type in "James" into the search bar on Live Curriculum and see what they have on that subject already. After each talk I write, I save the talk to Google drive or Dropbox along with any videos or teaching helps I use. So then it's there for the next time around. Of course, I update it and change the videos as needed to stay current 3 years later. After doing this for more than a decade, I have a nice library of talks!  

      How to update old lessons so they are not stuck in the nineties? What would have been called a talk on Spiritual Gifts (or "What is your SHAPE?" for all the Purpose Driven/Saddleback fans) is now renamed "America's Got Talent" which resonates much better with my 2012 group of middle schoolers.  This talk is updated with current movie clips, not movie clips from the 90's. I just did this talk on Sunday and used the Odd Life of Timothy Green for illustrating several of my points (from Wingclips). After doing ministry for a long time, you find yourself with a huge stack of good stand-by lessons you can re-use after a few tweaks here and there. 

     How about a Freebie from my files? Here is a Middle School -friendly copy of my "America's Got Talent" talk that you can change up as needed. Note...this is a talk for middle schoolers, so it's short, fun, and to the point (kind of like me!). We run our Middle School services twice on Sundays, and 2nd service we change it up to small group discussions instead. So here are the discussion questions for small groups (need to see the presentation slides for this to make sense). This talk was inspired from a devotional shared by a dear lady named Joyce who works on staff at my church. She gave me the candy idea. So want to give her credit! 
A Freebie You Can Use 
Please share your tips for planning ahead. I would love to know what you do to plan your Sunday morning topics/lessons. 


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