One of the greatest blessings to me as a preaching pastor is to share the pulpit. Not only am I challenged and fed, but I receive a much needed rest between series. It allows me to collect my thoughts and work ahead on the upcoming series. It is a blessing to the people of our church in that it offers variety, another perspective, a different preaching style and another voice in their life.
Sometimes a smaller church may feel that they are not large enough to enjoy a shared pulpit. Let me offer a few ideas that helped us as a smaller church move beyond a single preacher mindset and paradigm. We’ve used these approaches in our early days, when we averaged around 100 in attendance.
- Schedule time off: Be committed to sharing the pulpit and show it by scheduling days off for you. You can be there, but you just won’t be preaching. Work toward scheduling the preaching calendar for one year and plan time away. Take a break between message series-for me this provides 8-10 Sundays when I’m away or with my congregation and not preaching. Often these away times are scheduled intentionally on ‘low attendance’ days. Pastor Mark Driscoll’s approach to planning has helped me think and plan for these days and it has been profitable.
- Develop a team: Your team can be one person, consider a staff member like the student minister – provide coaching and encourage him in the gift of preaching. Let them know before hand that you will be providing helpful feedback on their delivery and message.
- Preaching Events: Use the Wednesday evening Bible study to develop teachers and preachers. Every year we run a 6-8 week emphasis we call “Preacher Boys” in which we allow young, inexperienced guys to preach. We have hosted a preaching event where local seminary students were invited to come and preach to peers and then to the congregation. A competition element was included with the winner awarded a small scholarship (collected in an offering from the congregation that night) and an opportunity to preach on a Sunday morning. Everyone who participated commented about the encouragement and fun they received.
- Invite local pastors: Ask some of the other church pastors or associate pastors to preach. This will show a spirit of unity and will allow you to grow closer with pastors and congregations. Recently, a local pastor and I switched pulpits. This generated a lot of prayer and mutual encouragement between our two congregations.
- Schedule an Evangelist: In the past churches would host regularly scheduled ‘revivals’ where traveling evangelists would come to preach. While this practice is less common, these called and gifted men are still available. We have two full-time traveling evangelists in our congregation who I regularly schedule to preach, both they and the church enjoy it.
What about compensation? Most of these suggestions won’t impact your budget greatly. You are simply developing young men and building relationships with other churches. If you will recall when you first surrendered to preach you were happy to preach to three people in a barn if they would let you. Let these young men preach. For the times you feel you need to offer some financial benefit may I suggest that you offer whatever comes in over the weekly financial requirements. When I communicate this to the church they usually give sacrificially and it has always been more than I would have planned on paying if I had to write a check from the budget.
I hope you will try these and be able to rest a few times a year. Some church members will comment about you being there and not preaching. They may say things like, “Well, what are we paying you for?” All I can say to that is, don’t worry. I heard them when we began this approach but the overwhelming reaction has been one of thankfulness.
Published October 8, 2015