My take on Preaching & Invitations
Some time ago, I was preaching for a church in another city. After service, the host pastor invited several preachers to join us for fellowship at a nearby eatery. One of the pastors was a former seminary classmate of mine. I had preached for him and he, in turn, preached for me at my former church. I was amazed at how he had been able to grow his church and also quite impressed by the caliber of guest preachers he had invited through the years. One of those preachers I really admired greatly, and I had wondered if I could potentially have him to share with my fledgling congregation. He was in high demand as a speaker and preacher, and a successful pastor in his own right. I was amazed that my former classmate had been able to secure this nationally acclaimed preacher, year after year. He expressed to me that he simply picked up the phone, placed a call, invited this nationally recognized preacher, and he showed up. The conversation took an abrupt turn, however. My former classmate became irate, and began to scold this particular preacher. In essence, he expressed to me his disappointment that he had invited this prominent preacher for years, treated him well, exhausting every resource, year after year; but this prominent preacher had never invited him to come and preach for him, as well. Of course, I asked my former classmate if he felt it a cardinal rule to invite a preacher to his congregation when they’ve invited him. His answer was a clear and emphatic”Yes!” I respectfully disagreed; but he stood firm on his conviction. He, then, affirmed that he would never invite that prominent preacher back to his church again; and that he would move on to another preacher the following year. As I have checked, he has held to that promise.
For years I’ve been fascinated with several views any given preacher will have regarding preaching and invitations to preach elsewhere. I wish to share a few of them here; with hopes it will either help some young preacher, or for someone to enlighten me on another perspective. Please note: these are just MY own views; and what I’ve gained through observations in ministry through the years from observing others like my father, pastor or mentors from near and afar. Take note: these are not rules…simply helpful hints that I think are often unspoken.
1. Never Ask Someone To Let You Preach.
Proverbs 25:7 says, “…it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.” If I can apply this truth to preaching, it is all the same. This is not an issue of vanity as much as it is a matter of respect. Many pastors love people; and it places an extra burden upon them when feeling they have to find a spot to put you in for preaching. Let him ask you! My wife grew up in Holman Street Baptist Church. I came across an old tape of hers where the late E. V. Hill was preaching there. In his sermon he said that he had called Pastor Manson Johnson and said he would like to come and preach. This shocked me… But then I remembered who it was: Dr. E. V. HILL!!! It is certainly not my intent to belittle anyone in ministry, but many of us have not yet reached the platform of the late E. V. Hill. It is best to allow our gift(s) to make room for us. Conversely, I get it. We want to preach! There are some places I’d love to stand and share God’s Word. But I would suggest that one resist the urge to go so far as asking others to preach. Our eagerness can come across as desperation.
2. Never Feel that an Invited Preacher is Obligated to Invite You
Just because you’ve been kind enough to extend an invitation to someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is being unkind if they don’t invite you to them. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are less than able, can’t preach, didn’t treat them well, etcetera. I have friends with whom I’ve preached for whom I’ve not been able to have my way. There are always several factors. But never allow your reason for inviting someone to be an expectation of them inviting you. Never feel the pressure to invite someone just because you’ve been invited by them. This is an unecessary and unfair weight to have anyone carry. In a real sense, it is not fair to them; and it is not fair to you.
It is best to follow the Holy Spirit regarding who He would have to share with your people, treat that person beyond fair if humanly possible, and pray for them as they go. That’s all.
3. Don’t tell a Preacher You Will have him preach for you, knowing you don’t plan to.
Admittedly, this was a problem for me when I began pastoring in my late 20’s a few years ago.
Here’s what I’ve discovered. Many preachers take you literally. AND, they thought they heard you say next Sunday!!! I’ve told preachers “Man, I hope to invite you ONE DAY.” What they heard, “Doctor, I need you next month!” Don’t be like me. I’ve had to learn the hard way. If you have to bite your tongue, bite it off! Well, not really. But what you do not want to do is be that preacher who has 20 preachers saying you will call them and you only have 5 opportunities that need to be filled throughout any given year, and 2 of those are going to your associate ministers. This spells a problem.
In summary, please know, I am in no way one of the aforementioned prominent preachers. Our lack of prominence makes us no less important to God, or our calling ineffectual. There are some who just have greater numbers and more notoriety. I simply consider myself a student of those who do it well and a fellow-traveler in ministry with those who are trying to get it right. Further, I am becoming more disturbed by the blatant wickedness & incessant debauchery I see in the world; and believe we as proclaimers of God’s eternal truths must strive to be sharper, wiser and more united than ever before. This spells, colors and fuels my ultimate intent: to be helpful as a preaching pupil & ministerial nomad. May this not only help us all; but also spark a healthy and wholesome dialogue. Please let me know your thoughts. And if you disagree with what I’ve shared here, I welcome your thoughts and comments. We are in this together!
Good blog, and it reminds me to invite you to preach in chapel for us this spring. I am attaching information below about our theme. Just a reminder – we meet on Thursdays at 11:30 and can only allow our preachers twenty minutes due to a need for students to eat and return to their next class. We are not able to offer compensation for travel or an honorarium. I know you have to exercise a careful stewardship of your tie and resources but if you can come, we would be blessed. Open dates right now are any Thursday between 2/11 and 4/14 except 2/25 and 3/10 or 17.
Logsdon Seminary Colloquium at the South Texas School of Christian Studies Spring Semester – 2015 Ecclesiology: What in the World is the Church?
This semester our focus in Colloquium will be ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church. Specifically, we will ponder the question, “What in the world is the church?” This inquiry could take many forms: What is the church’s mission in the world – evangelism, faithful presence, prophetic critique by engagement or separation, activism through the existing power structures? What is the church’s biblical structure, her polity – hierarchical, congregational, presbyterian? What has the church in fact become in the world and how does this differ from or express her God-given mission? What is the world-wide church and how can local congregations connect to participate in her work – through denominational structures, mission trips, partnerships with churches across ethnic or geographical boundaries? What is the church’s expression in the world – a faithful witness to the past, a serpent-wise communicator with the present, an innovative builder of the future? We are asking our preachers to engage these and similar topics as they bring God’s word to us week by week.
Doug Jackson, D.Min Assistant Professor of Spiritual Formation Logsdon Seminary/South Texas School of Christian Studies email@example.com (361) 991-9403 Extension 110 7000 Ocean Drive Corpus Christi, TX 78412
“Inspiration behaves like a moody lover but good habits turn into trustworthy friends” – Lisa Colon Delay
Dr. Doug… I would love this. I will look into a date and let you know. Thank you!
Very well said son and a topic that very much needed to be addressed. I am in total agreement with your thoughts. Preaching and invitations to preach are and should be spirit directed. And, yes, there are limited opportunities to extend invitations. It has always been my belief that different individuals have different God given gifts and talents. For example as you grew up hearing me say: “there are a lot of very good and gifted preacher/pastors but not everyone has the unique gift of doing a city wide revival.” Some preachers just have the God given gift of connecting on certain levels. And you are certainly on point about extending an invitation to someone expecting them to reciprocate. Wouldn’t it be something if every preacher/pastor that every invited Dr. King to preach would have been expecting him to invite them? Or what about Jesus? Would they expect Him to turn around and invite them? Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It reminds me of another issue that is in the same vein in a sense. Many preacher/pastors only share gifts with those who share with them. I have known preachers who kept lists of who gave to them on anniversaries, etc. and they would only give to those who gave to them. Man! In my opinion that pretty much defeats the whole purpose of ‘giving’. You never know another persons situation. They might desire to give but may not be able to do so at the particular time. Anyway, “I’m just saying.” God bless and much love.
Thanks Dad… Your insights and counsel are invaluable. Love you much!
Pastor, this is good insight for both, the young and seasoned, preacher/pastor. Thanks for sharing. Blessings
Blessings to you, Elder!