I am a local church pastor who is often invited to preach. I am invited to speak at schools, conferences and other such events. But I am most often invited to speak for other local churches.
I do not take these opportunities lightly. Neither should you.
A pastor’s primary responsibility is to be a faithful steward of the pulpit with which he has been entrusted. He is charged before God to preach the word.
He is also accountable for what others teach from his pulpit. Therefore, it is a serious matter when a pastor invites someone to preach, be it an associate pastor within the church or a guest pastor from outside of it.
I am often asked what to do to get preaching invitations. Answer: I don’t know. But I do know how to get invited back: Be a good guest.
Here are several helpful hints for being a good guest when you are invited to preach.
Be clear about the pastor’s expectations.
Why did the pastor invite you? What are the expectations? What are his goals for the meeting?
Find out the pastor’s expectations before you accept the invitation. Respect them as you prepare. And prayerfully follow them when you preach.
Respect the occasion.
What is the occasion? Is it Sunday morning? Is it a special event? Is it evangelistic or discipleship-oriented? Is there an assigned text or theme?
Find out the occasion, and do your best to respect it. If you cannot respect the occasion, it may be best to decline the invitation.
Observe time limits.
Find out how much time you have. And do not accept, “Take as much time as you want” as an answer. Ask how long they expect the service to run. Or what time they expect the service to end.
Establish time limits. Prepare with that time frame in mind. And don’t go over the time. Period.
Avoid controversial subjects.
If a pastor never addresses controversial subjects in his preaching, he is not doing his job. If a guest preacher addresses controversial subjects, he is not.
What if the pastor asks you to speak on it? Fine. But still be careful. The pastor should introduce new subjects to his congregation, not you.
Bottom line: Don’t leave a mess for the pastor to clean up after you leave!