Preaching Articles

Pastor Rick is convinced his church needs him to preach every weekend. In fact, he hasn’t missed a service in four years. Though pastors like Rick don’t realize it, their inability to share the teaching load creates long-term challenges for themselves—and their church’s evangelistic impact. 

A teaching monopoly is harmful for a few reasons.  First, it robs the church of a unique perspective on God’s Word, conditioning seekers to think there’s only one person who can help them understand and interpret Scripture. Second, the unchurched community is often neglected when a leader doesn’t value personal renewal. Busy teaching pastors need time away from the pulpit to study, pray, rest, and refocus on the goal. Third, because the church fails to experience biblical teamwork and regular team-teaching, both regular attendees and new members can’t effectively prepare for an inevitable leadership transition. They’re prone to stop attending the church after the leader’s departure.

To counteract these evangelistic roadblocks and effectively share the teaching load at your church, utilize the following strategies:

  • Schedule “off” weekends and special message series ahead of time so the entire team knows the teaching schedule for the calendar year. Remind your staff that teaching isn’t a gift we’re supposed to keep for ourselves—God intended it to be a team effort. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (II Tim. 2:2 NIV).
  • Consider which staff and volunteer leaders in your ministry can be trained and mentored to help with the teaching load. Granger has strategically reduced the times our senior pastor teaches to about 30 weekends each year. That doesn’t mean he’s on vacation the rest of the time—there’s still quite a bit involved in leading a church of 5,000 people. It just means he isn’t focusing solely on teaching.
  • Trade speaking opportunities with other local churches, allowing both churches to gain a unique perspective on God’s Word. Team-teaching allows a church to hear new biblical insights and challenges for life application, and also accommodates different learning styles.
  • Pay guest speakers to come in from time to time. Always make sure you preview the speaker’s message before inviting him or her, as slightly warped theology could mislead seekers.

Now that team-teaching is part of Granger’s DNA, the congregation accepts and appreciates the variety of teaching styles and insights. All of our services, regardless of who’s teaching, are designed to connect with today’s culture and help people take their next steps toward Christ. And we don’t have a noticeable change in attendance even with a guest speaker.  Most importantly, seekers have learned that the ministry is about meeting Jesus—not connecting with a personality. 

Copyright © by Outreach magazine. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Outreach magazine provides fascinating stories, field-tested ideas, and insights for effective church outreach. Awarded both secular and Christian recognition for excellence in content and presentation, Outreach magazine serves as a fresh stream of practical resources and tactics for pastors, lay leaders, and ministers in all areas. Outreach magazine also publishes the widely sought Outreach 100 issue, annually featuring the top 100 largest and fastest growing churches in America. Personalities featured on the cover of past issues include Erwin McManus, Franklin Graham, Josh McDowell, Dan Kimball, Francis Chan, Ravi Zacharias, and others.

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K. Edward Skidmore

commented on Mar 14, 2012

I agree with Tony Morgan that shared preaching is preferable to one person doing all the preaching all the time. Our church has 4 preachers who all take turns preaching and everyone is better off for it. We also invite guest preachers in from time to time.

Vance Weeks

commented on Mar 14, 2012

I don't have the horus it would take to share why this perspective is wrong for 99 percent of churches, but if you're one of those churches of 5000 members like Tony Morgan is writing about I'm sure this article is great for you. As a pastor of a church of 50 or 100 or 150 people, are you really suggesting I should give the pulpit to someone else 22 weeks out of the year? You can value personal renewal and put prayer and reflection into your preaching without taking 40 percent of the year off from the pulpit.

Keith B

commented on Mar 14, 2012

I don't have an issue with the idea of allowing another pastor into the pulpit on occasion. We all need time off...but there are problems with sharing the pulpit, too. What happens when people start to realize that when a certain pastor is preaching, they prefer to skip church? Be it the senior or the youth pastor filling in...this isn't optimal to have people only come to church to hear their favorite guy. There is also the issue of making sure the guy you share the pulpit with is qualified to do so and will teach soundly---be it the assistant pastor, or the guy from the church across town. If you're a pastor, you have a responsibility to guard that pulpit--it's the only chance you get to speak to many of your congregants on a weekly basis--and you need to make it count.

Jim Ressegieu

commented on Mar 14, 2012

Oh would I love to give the 40 souls that faithfully come in the doors of our little church each Sunday and the dozen or so shut-ins who hear the service on cd's a break from my preaching/teaching. But gosh, the church gives me 4 weeks of vacation and a break in July/August from the Sunday Bible study. But does anyone out there know how hard it is to get pulpit supply to a little church in a little town that's 65 miles from a metro area--especially if they know that on the weeks the pastor isn't there only 25 of them will show up? Of course it would scare me even more if I had to face 5 thousand on a Sunday! I'm in my 7th year with this dear congregation and within the past year I finally got the deacons to be regular in their visitation responsibilities. I already know that NO ONE wants to teach/preach in the congregation--staff?? Well you know the answer to that. Planning dinners...donating time to outreach...tithing...6 special projects for the community a year...attending Bible study...all of those I praise the Lord for. Preaching/teaching?? "Pastor, that's why we called you!!"

John Kiddy

commented on Mar 14, 2012

I think we must bear in mind the diversity of churches and allow them to operate as God directs them. I believe that as a pastor we ought always to disciple men and women into the ministry,... those who are called. I plan conferences and vacation time for my wife and I, 2 or 3 times a year now, but there was a time when it wasn't feasible. I have a friend of mine who rotates service to service, and it is a thriving church, but that would not do well for us at this time. I am very protective of the sacred desk in our church, but I I definitely schedule anointed preachers/teachers to our church throughout the year, and our people love and are blessed by it. Bottom line is we have to follow God and know what is blessed for our church.

Marvin Penner

commented on Mar 14, 2012

The strongest argument to share the pulpit is it's potential to allow for the expression of everyone's gifts. I can think of nothing that communicates the false teaching that only the pastor is gifted to minister like when a pastor refuses to share the pulpit! I can think of nothing that communicates more clearly that all members of the church are to share their gifts like having trusted and mentored elders and members preaching from time to time does!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 14, 2012

I agree with K B and Vance. I share the pulpit with men in the church such as now with Easter coming. I have scheduled 5 men to bring a message surrounding either the crucifixion or resurrection on Sunday or Wednesday evenings. This gives that different perspective and also gives me a break (I have 3 sermons a week to preach with Sunday and Wednesday evenings). I just had a guest speaker this past Sunday morning and it went very well. But I would NEVER even consider having a different speaker in for 22 Sunday mornings. I may miss a couple of Sundays but I have a man in the church bring the message not someone from the outside. If I do bring in a special speaker I am going to be there to hear him also as I would not be comfortable letting someone else preach who I may not be familiar with. I do believe in taking vacations because if you don't come away from the ministry and refresh yourself you will come apart in the ministry.

Anthony Luckett

commented on Mar 14, 2012

As a associate minister I get to preach 2 or 3 times a year at our church. I teach sunday school and but have not taught bible study in about a year. My Pastor brings in guest speakers but this is usually during sunday afternoon, for a special service. Excpet for revival this happens maybe 2 to 3 times per year. Other than that, he does all the preaching and teaching. It's difficult to pull a Pastor away from their pulpit on Sunday. But a guest speaker brings a excitement to the congregation. Lastly, my Pastor never announuces before hand when he is not going to be at service nor does he tell the congregation when I or someone else will be preaching. It's a given fact that some only come to church to hear the Pastor.

Jason Jones

commented on Mar 14, 2012

I am an associate pastor of a small church. As part of my job description I am supposed to preach one Sunday every other month. I also cover Sunday's when our senior pastor is on vacation or just needs a break. We are planning a weekend seminar where a pastor that we know will be coming from out of town to minister to us. I am looking forward to it.

Jerry Godsey

commented on Mar 15, 2012

The church I co-pastor is fairly new, we will be five years old in April. We are not a mega-church, I doubt that 100 or so in attendance qualifies us for that. There are three of us who share preaching duties on Sundays. None of the pastors are full time, so it really helps to share the load. Also, it gives our church three different voices and styles to absorb. My co-pastors and I will hammer out a theme for a series of messages, then each will add their topics or passages as their turn comes up. After thirty years in the ministry, I don't think I could go back to a single pastor model. This works too well. As far as the congregation picking favorites, to be honest that sounds like a leadership issue more than anything else. If you teach your people that when the Word is preached they can glean something, even if the style of the preacher doesn't suit them, they will still show up. We have to be careful cultivating a cult of personality around the pastor. Our third pastor is a man we raised to be a pastor out of our congregation, and it has been awesome. Look for someone you can pour your life into and bring them alongside. Sure, there can be bumps in the road, but it is worth it!

Robert Sickler

commented on Mar 19, 2012

God calls men to the pulpit, we do not call men to the pulpit. Although I will admit, there are far too many men in the pulpit who were never called by God. To this end, the shepherds of a church should always be on the alert for a young man that God has called to preach the word. That person should be encouraged, helped and given the opportunity to secure and mature his calling.

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