Preaching Articles

Over the past couple of 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, takedown, childcare) you create when you don’t follow the time frame they’ve given you.

2)  Don’t make controversial statements the church staff is 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 than 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 were assigned a topic, I ignored it and still gave my favorite message in the past two years. 

No, seriously, if I were 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? 

Pete Wilson is the founding pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN and author of a new book entitled Plan B, his thoughts about what to do when life doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would. He is a frequent blogger on his popular ministry blog, Pete is married and has three sons.

Browse All

Related Preaching Articles

Talk about it...

Jason Cardwell

commented on Sep 15, 2011

The love expressed in this article, for God, for pastors, for churches, was just a blessing to read. Thank you!

Bob Garbett

commented on Sep 15, 2011

Awesome. You can "guest speak" at any time :-)

Russ Powell Sr.

commented on Sep 15, 2011

These are good points. I am 78 and a retired elder and I do all these things to up lift the people and the pastor. They need all the help we can give them.

Ed Boon

commented on Sep 15, 2011

I am fully with points 1, 2 and 4 and most of point 3 but I don't get the part of point 3 about imitating the style of preaching of the pastor. If you don't usually use notes and the pastor usually does do you pretend to use them? It seems to me that if you were invited because of who you are, the church should expect you to be who you are. If I invited Bill Hybels to come to preach I would expect him to come with his notes just as I would expect Irwin McMannus to come without any notes. As the host pastor I want the guest pastor to do the very best that he can to the glory of God and not to worry about imitating me. On the other hand, I once invited someone to preach in my absence and he "fired" the worship team because he didn't like contemporary music and insisted on only a pianist. That was totally out of order. He obviously was never invited back.

Philo Daniell

commented on Sep 18, 2011

I believe guest speaking is a good opportunity to speak under the direct leading of the Holy Spirit. God will not mislead, even if you are a guest. Much as protocol is all important, but the guest may be able to break religion etc in a congragation not theirs and begin something so new, so fresh. Hence let the Lord guide, not man

Join the discussion