So you’re invited to preach at someone else’s church. Or a conference. Or a chapel service. The venue doesn’t really matter. What does matter is not committing one of the seven deadly sins of guest preaching.
7 Deadly Sins of Guest Preaching
Preaching in front of your own church is way different than being a guest preacher. Preaching at “home” means you know the audience. You know how to apply the text and to whom. As a guest, you just don’t know. Consequently, these deadly sins will keep you from communicating effectively to your audience.
Sin 1: “This is my smokin’ hot wife”
Do. Not. Say. This.
Ever, ever. (Seriously)
It’s disrespectful to your wife and it’s awkward for the audience. Honor your wife; don’t sexualize her. It goes without saying too: Never say this to an audience filled with teenage boys.
Sin 2: Travel Itinerary Intro
Don’t give a rundown of how long it took you to get to the conference. It’s boring. No one in your audience really cares how long it took for you to fly out there. What they need is an effective introduction which grips their imagination.
Sin 3: No contextualization
Once you get into the message, it’s deadly to lack contextualization. Don’t preach in New York City like you’re speaking at a rural Kentucky church. Don’t preach like Tim Keller to a country church. Adapt your style, illustrations and applications to the setting. Lack of sensitivity to the context will alienate your audience. Don’t be a selfish preacher.
Sin 4: Canned Messages
A “canned” message is a sermon preached more than two times. It’s deadly. Not only for the audience, but also for your own soul. Why? Preaching canned messages often involves “going through the motions.” You’re preaching to preach. Pushing yourself to preach new material will drive you back to the text and desperate reliance on God.