Are you recognizing that your presence in the pulpit is not what will make or break your church? Are you becoming more concerned about the next generation of preachers? I hope so. But you may be wondering, “How can I accomplish that?” The following are some tips that may be of some help to you.
Expect More of Leaders
Do you have a plurality of elders? You should. It’s biblical and healthy for you and your church. Although I can’t persuasively argue that the qualification that an elder be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2) requires public preaching, why not seek to equip your current elders to be able to do so? Why not see to it that future elders are at least growing in this regard? Teaching and authority typically go together. Share leadership by sharing the pulpit. It will refresh you and bless your congregation. Train your leaders to preach.
Recruit Preachers Among You
This may seem obvious, but if you desire to raise up preachers, those men probably won’t come and find you. You need to dig them up. Men are in your church who feel called to preach, but they don’t think the opportunity exists. Some guys who have never considered it, if asked, would quickly warm up to the idea. Others may look at you like you’re crazy. Those may need to catch a vision from you about whom they could one day be in Christ’s service. After all, much of leadership is getting people to do what they don’t want to do. Find men who are high in character and conviction. Challenge them to preach. Work with them on the competency part of the equation. Be determined to find preachers.
Provide Preaching Opportunities
Generally speaking, a man’s first sermon shouldn’t be given in a Sunday morning worship gathering. Provide some other opportunities for him to learn and grow. At Karis, we monthly hold what we call “Leader Lab” on a Sunday afternoon. Elders, staff, and interns, plus any others who are interested, come together to listen and encourage a novice preacher. We utilize the time to prepare music leaders as well. Men preach, sometimes to fewer than ten people, and submit to feedback from the pastors and staff. This provides a safe place for a man to test and refine his gift. Perhaps you have other mid-sized meetings, like missional communities, where this could take place. Maybe your budding preacher could take the gospel to a nursing home, and you could accompany him and evaluate him there. Find such opportunities to train preachers.
Teach Men to Preach
Recently I realized I was just putting men in the pulpit, expecting them to figure out how to prepare and deliver a sermon on their own. If an aspiring preacher doesn’t have the right tools, we shouldn’t be surprised if he ends up frustrated and hurt. We began holding a preaching workshop that seeks to give men some direction in how to begin to preach. This is open to those preaching at Leader Lab, but we’ll soon open it up to anyone who is interested. We encourage the men to collaborate on their sermons, tying theirs together to a broader theme of a section of Scripture. This gives them experience in preaching as a part of a series as well. Commit to not throwing men in the deep end of the pool. Teach them to preach.
Give Helpful Evaluations
If your desire is for faithful, effective preachers, give them helpful feedback so they can grow. Provide group evaluations for the preachers in which they can hear the thoughts of others. Have lunch with the man and be honest about your thoughts. Was the text faithfully proclaimed? Was the gospel clearly presented? Was there unity and focus to the message? Be careful not to focus only on the negative. Give him words of encouragement as well. Also, be kind enough to give him an overall assessment. Is preaching a good fit or not? Should he keep working at it? No feedback, no growth.
Let People Preach
Allow other men to proclaim the gospel of Jesus to your congregation. Utilize natural breaks in the year (holidays, summers, etc.) to give others opportunities to preach. Again, it will be good for you, for your church, and for the kingdom. But additionally, if those men see no opportunities to preach in your body, they won’t sign up, or they’ll grow discouraged. If you want to raise up preachers in your church, you have to pry your fingers from the pulpit. Share those opportunities with others.
Ephesians 4:12 calls pastors to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” This includes raising up preachers. If you now desire this, great! However, you must build in processes and events to ensure this actually takes place. Good intentions don’t produce good preachers.