It’s that time of year when I invite other seasoned preachers to bring God’s Word to our congregation in a more extended way, through a series of messages. I may do so at different times throughout the year, but in January, it is more focused than at any other time of the year. Why is this necessary?
Preaching is one of my greatest passions. As the pastor of a congregation, it is also one of my responsibilities. In fact, I will soon be teaching a Bible institute course on homiletics, equipping others to prepare and deliver Biblical messages. So, why delegate this privilege?
- I need to be refreshed and renewed. Yes, I’m human. I get drained and weary at times. Members may think that pastors can go “full throttle” at all times, but it’s not true. Nor is it wise to even try. After one of the most intense ministry seasons (Fall and Christmas), it is important that I catch my breath, and allow other godly preachers to minister to my soul through the Word. It is also a time when I can evaluate the Lord’s work, seek God’s direction for the coming year, and do extended planning that I rarely have time to do.
- It is healthy for the church. A congregation can get into a comfortable rut of always hearing the same preacher, the same style, maybe even the same diet. They “enjoy” the preacher, so why listen to anyone else? Even though I seek variety in my preaching content, it is not the same as hearing God’s Word through the heart, life, and experience of another man of God. It expands our horizons, recaptures our attention, and reminds us (as I will point out in a moment) that it’s about God’s Word, not God’s servant. It is also healthy for a church to have a healthy pastor.
- We are a Body. The Bible is clear that the New Testament church is a body, made up of many members (1 Corinthians 12). The only Head is Jesus – not the pastor. The early church clearly had a team of pastors (elders, bishops) that ministered God’s Word in local congregations. There were also multiple preachers and teachers. In fact, it is the responsibility of local church leaders to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16), and above all, that includes preaching and teaching the Word of God. How are God-called preachers going to exercise their gifts if the Senior Pastor does not delegate any of the preaching?
- It’s not about me. It’s about hearing from God. Some members act as if they can only hear from God through the senior pastor, or their favorite teacher. As flattering as that may appear on the surface, it is not a good spiritual indicator. Paul rebuked the carnal Corinthians for focusing on those who were “of Paul” or “of Apollos,” when we are all simply ministers, and should be “of Jesus” (1 Corinthians 3:1-9). We need to remember where our focus should be.
I remember growing up on the mission field, as my Dad planted churches and trained nationals to preach, teach, and lead the congregations. Any time some of the new “preachers” were scheduled to speak, there were members who would not come. Despite the accent, they preferred hearing from “the missionary.” The others weren’t as skilled, developed, and experienced. “It’s just not the same,” they would say. “I don’t get as much out of it.”
But I also remember one church member who would consistently say, “I’m here to hear God’s Word. It doesn’t matter who is the one speaking. I want to hear from God.” He was right. When we all come to church with hearts ready to hear and respond to the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit, God is going to speak and do wondrous things. I’m looking forward to church on Sunday. Are you?