Preaching Articles

How does someone evaluate if God has called them to preach?  Let them preach.  Profound, eh?  As obvious as this sounds, it is amazing the amount of men in local churches desiring to be pastors and considering a call to preach, but are never given the opportunity to actually preach.  I have known men who spent close to 10 years at seminary finishing both a Master’s and Ph.D. for the sake of pursuing pastoral ministry and at the end of that time never stepped foot into the pulpit of their church to which they belonged.

Those who seek to pastor and know their need to be tested, trained and affirmed for pastoral ministry, realize this must include logged time in a real pulpit in a real church preaching God’s word to real church members (this rules out preaching class, sorry).  Although I may be stating the obvious, here are a few places to start if you are a pastor who sees your neglect in this area and desires to engage better.

1)  Provide opportunities.  If you are counting on good book reading and preaching class to cover this base, you are mistaken.  Pastors, you must provide real opportunities before your people in public gatherings of the church for these men to preach.  There is obviously some level of evaluation that will have already taken place before doing this, but before a man should pursue pastoral ministry and any kind of preaching ministry, time in your pulpit under your authority and the other pastors/elders is essential.

2)  Provide intentional evaluation.  Do not simply provide the opportunity and hope a few people in the church will give helpful feedback.  Plan to sit down and evaluate the preaching experience with him.  It helps even to meet beforehand and talk about his sermon preparation and remind him that a post-sermon conversation looms.  Make sure you share things he did well and you thought were helpful as well as areas that need improvement.  Use good judgment, but be intentional to evaluate.

3)  Provide another opportunity.  Unless that young man’s sermon was beyond awful, make sure he gets another chance.  Most everybody’s first sermon is bad, and the second often times is not much better.  How was your first sermon?  Exactly.  You knew it would be unfair to evaluate your calling on one sermon, so do not put the same pressure on the guys in your church seeking your guidance and affirmation.  I just heard a young man in our church preach an excellent sermon, but it took a good five sermons before he learned how to apply the critique he was hearing.  Do not give up on eager young men too quickly.

OK, so there is a starting point.  If you sense a true call on a young man’s life in your church to pastoral ministry, let him preach.  Provide several opportunities.  Give feedback.  Then, let him get back on the horse to ride again.  Remember, the confirmation of his calling through your efforts may not be how good a preacher he is at the beginning, but how eager he appears to be to receive your guidance, critique and care.

Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.  He is the husband of Cara and adoring father of four children—son Samuel and daughters Abby, Isabelle, and Claire.  He has served in pastoral ministry for 15 years and is currently in his eighth year as Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church.  He was educated at both Belmont University and Indiana University, receiving his B.A. in Sociology.  He also undertook some graduate work at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Browse All

Related Preaching Articles

Talk about it...

James Daniel

commented on Apr 30, 2015

How about providing some mentoring and coaching in how to prepare and present a sermon? At Atlanta Christian College, part of our required curriculum was classes that taught the different forms and types of sermons as well as how to put the thoughts together in a coherent manner. Then we preached our sermon with feedback from Dr. Strother, our preaching professor and our classmates. This process made it much easier the first time I stepped into a pulpit in a church. Compared to most seminary programs, we had more training and preaching time when we graduated with our bachelor's degrees than most M.Div. or doctoral programs get.

Tom Smith

commented on Apr 30, 2015

I totally agree, there is usually no effort on the part of the current pastor to raise up a potential replacement. Several years ago the present pastor of the church where I was saved had some spiritual setbacks, and then resigned. At that point no one was in the pipeline to take over. The deacon board asked me to be a part of a rotating group of elders, to (Even though I did not feel qualified), fill the pulpit for almost 6 months. At that time I had no Seminary training, and felt very unqualified. The congregation was very supportive of all of us, and ultimately I went to seminary at the age of 50. I am now 70, and at my second church, and would not change anything. We have a teen in our youth group, who is very shy, and one day on a whim I told him that I had it on good authority that he was going to be the next pastor here. He immediately denied it, but since, has had a noticeable change in attitude in our youth group. He has taken the lead in peer group examples, where he never did before. I truly believe that this has been an eye opener for him. (You never know, only God does). Keep on encouraging.

Patrice Marker-Zahler

commented on Apr 30, 2015

Brian, You get high marks for the content of your article. However you get low marks in your thinking that God only calls men to be preachers. This is a flaw in some denominations teachings who do not understand what Christ said and did.

Lafern Cobb

commented on Apr 30, 2015

I am sure when you use the term "men" you mean mankind....since I have been in the pastoral ministry for 32 years and the Pastor at the same church for 22 years and I am part of mankind, called Clergywoman. I was given the opportunity to "speak" because that is where is begins. My Pastor was a very wise man who saw in me a calling almost before I realized. I am so thankful for the Godly Pastors, women and men who helped me and prayed for me and gave me a pulpit to preach the beautiful salvation message of Jesus Christ! Now after all these decades as a Pastor it's my turn to reach out and help others. There are 2 young women who feel a call to Pastor. One has preached already and you could feel the Holy Spirit in her words. I am blessed to help young women and men in our church realize their gifts that God has so graciously poured out upon them. Thank God our Sons and Daughters are preaching the Word! The future of the Church looks bright and blessed!

Rev. Phyllis Pottorff-Albrecht, United Brethren Communi

commented on Apr 30, 2015

I thank God that I preached my first sermon when I was 12 - as part of our church's youth week activities. Even before that, I had been encouraged to teach sunday School. Our church has a long history of encouraging young people to become involve in some aspect of the Lord's work and, even today, we have a very active young deacons program. Once a year, I take a team of teens and young college students to assist with our mission in Nicaragua. During that time, our young people have opportunities to be involved in many aspects of the church's work - from putting up shelves to conducting entire services on their own. There is no better way - or time - for young people to learn what part of the Lord's work which the Lord has called them to undertake - and I am thankful the young deacons program has helped many young people discover their calling. Of course, our young deacons program encourages both young ladies and young gentlemen to discover their spiritual gifts and employ those gifts in vibrant ministry.

Suresh Manoharan

commented on May 1, 2015

It takes a spirit of discernment in a Pastor to discern the presence/absence of the Holy Spirit anointing in an aspirant's message. That comes only after the "would-be" preacher has walked consistently with the Lord (2 Tim 2:21). Usually these individuals are also diligent in their preparations.

Ps Deborah Van Bennekom

commented on May 3, 2015

I thanks God for the great leaders who gave me opportunities as a woman to develop the preaching and leadership gifts God placed in me.

Join the discussion