Say, thank you.
This is not just good pulpit etiquette—it’s what your momma taught you. When someone is kind to you, say thanks.
Of course, you should thank that pastor privately for the invitation. It is also appropriate to publicly thank him for the opportunity. In fact, send a note of thanks after the meeting.
It is a privilege to be asked to preach. The least you can do is say, thank you.
Do not pretend to be the pastor, especially if you are an associate filling in for your pastor. If you listen to a man preach each week, it is hard not to pick up some of his pulpit manners and customs. But do not be a clone. And not do presume authority that is not yours.
The congregation knows you are not the pastor. But they will accept you, as long as you do not pretend to be what you are not.
Will you preach from a different translation? Do you plan to use multimedia? Will you say something that may be misunderstood? Are you considering something out of the norm? Is something “on your heart”?
Do not press on and get the pastor’s forgiveness later. Seek his permission first, whatever it is. If in doubt, ask first.
Dress conservatively. It is better to overdress than under-dress. But don’t be flashy. And don’t be a diva. You are there to serve the congregation, not the other way around.
Did you get away with that envelope-pushing statement or illustration with your congregation? Good. Leave it there. Strive to be humble, respectful and sensitive to the environment of the church.
Participate in the worship service.
The sermon begins when you enter the room. The congregation is smoking you over the whole time. Win their goodwill by participating in the worship service.
Do not sit in the office until it is time for you to speak. And do not sit on the platform reading your manuscript or notes, ignoring what is happening around you. You want the congregation to continue to worship as you preach. Worship with the congregation before you preach
Be on assignment.
Pastors must have a long-term perspective. This Sunday matters. And he must give God his best.
But next Sunday is coming. And the next.
Sunday comes regularly and rapidly. Effective pastors must train as marathon runners. But effective guest speakers must train as sprinters. Don’t view the opportunity as a mere preaching engagement. View it as a divine assignment.
Be ready. Be prayerful. Be faithful. Preach the word!