Over the past couple years I’ve done a lot of guest speaking at churches. I consider it a great honor to give friends a break who may be out getting some much needed rest. I also learn a ton while visiting other churches. So many different things we’ve implemented at Cross Point over the years have come from my visits to other churches.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at Central Christian in Vegas for my good friend Jud Wilhite. I can’t say enough good things about what this church is doing under Jud’s leadership. Unbelievable!
With each opportunity I’ve had to visit your churches, there are a couple things I’m picking up on. I don’t have this whole “guest speaking” thing down, but here’s what I want to share:
First of all I want to address those of you who do guest speaking from time to time.
To Guest Speakers:
1. Don’t go over your allotted time. Period. I don’t care how “inspired” you feel. You have no idea the issues (parking, service turnover, take down, childcare) you create when you don’t follow the time frame they’ve given you.
2. Don’t make controversial statements the church staff are going to have to clean up later. Your "funny" joke may have cost the pastor hours of meetings. If you feel led to stir the water a bit do it on your own platform, not theirs. They’ve probably spent years intentionally building integrity with their community and attenders. You have the power to put that in jeopardy in one 30-minute message.
3. Respect the methodology of the church you’re speaking in. It’s quite simple. Take time to understand their protocol. If they do altar calls each week then you need to do an altar call. If they don’t, then you don’t. If you like to use outlines but their church never uses outlines, then take a pass and find a way to communicate your message without using an outline. If you can’t jive with their methodology, then you shouldn’t have accepted the request in the first place.
4. Take a moment to give honor and respect to the pastor and staff, but don’t overdo it. I think it’s important to recognize the pastor and his leadership. Say for him what in his humble spirit he would never say about himself. But at the end of the day, make sure you put the focus of the message where it really needs to be, which is on Christ.
To Guest Speaker Listeners:
It’s confession time. While I appreciate your kind words and praise, you need to know something:
I brought my silver bullet. Chances are I gave my “best” message I’ve written in the past two years. If I was assigned a topic, I ignored it and still gave my favorite message in the past two years.
No, seriously, if I was assigned the topic, I still probably had several weeks or months to prepare and work in my favorite illustrations and zingers. Your pastor who pounds out new messages week after week—he’s the real hero, and he’s probably twice the communicator I am.
What communication tips do you have for guest speakers?