From time to time, I get the honor of speaking at other churches, and I frequently have guest speakers at New Life. Over the years, I have seen a few guests with some terrible manners while most, thankfully, had great habits.
These are my six rules for being a great guest with good manners.
1. Finish on time.
This is a big one, especially for those of us who have multiple services in a day. Ask the pastor when he wants the microphone back and make sure he gets it earlier than requested. It is good manners.
2. Dress for the culture.
I always ask how the pastor dresses at his church and try to dress similarly. As long as it’s not an 8-button suit with a mustard colored shirt and purple tie, I can normally blend in pretty well.
3. Don’t purposely create any messes.
It is certainly ok to bring strong and challenging messages as the guest speaker, but I will be gone on Monday, and they have to live there and return all the e-mails and phone calls. I call them the “blow in, blow up, and blow out” guest speakers. I am there to add to what God is doing, so I usually don’t tackle topics that are best taught by the pastor who lives among them.
4. Let others sell your stuff.
Trust me, there is nothing more nauseating than someone pitching their stuff when they should be teaching the Scriptures. I actually had a guest once who demanded that he pitch his book because he said he sold more that way. He has never been invited back, which brings me to number five…
5. Don’t make any demands.
Go to be a blessing and love and shepherd them the way their pastors do each week. Where I stay, the amount of the honorarium, or what brand of bottled water I prefer is inconsequential when compared to the people hearing the message. I do not have guests who make ridiculous demands. Period.
6. Learn from their team.
One of the joys of getting to visit other churches is the inside access you get to their staff and volunteers. Ask them questions, spend some time, and learn from them. In fact, most of my good ideas have been stolen over lunch after speaking somewhere. I feel better now that I have confessed.