Continuing this periodic series of “10 Pointers” that began with “young preachers” and “older preachers,” here is a set of pointers for those who preach in a team. We asked why people don’t share their pulpit or their preparation in the last post.
Preaching has been a solo sport for too long, it is time we started engaging this ministry by means of a team:
1. Be a team in reality and not just in name. Pray for each other, support each other, spend time with each other. Just because a handful of people take turns in the pulpit does not mean you have a preaching team.
2. Play a key role in each other’s spiritual growth. If your collective goal is to preach the gospel to others and see people grow closer to Jesus, then make that the DNA of your team – that you care about each other’s growth and look for ways to promote it.
3. Share your resources. Between a handful of preachers you will probably have access to a decent number of commentaries and reference tools, as well as to creativity and the shared capacity to implement creative ideas.
4. Preview and review together. Previewing together helps identify blind spots in a message, and it helps to overcome the mental logjam that can occur. Reviewing together helps to improve every preacher after every message. In our church we don’t allow a sermon to be preached unless it is first previewed in conversation with other members of the preaching team. The preaching is stronger as a result.
5. Plan series together. When you plan a series together, you can be sure that each voice within that series will be preaching from the same paradigm. What is the background to the book you are preaching? Can you be on the same page about the setting, as well as the flow, and the purpose of the series? To preach well as a team, you have to be together.
6. Play people in their best position. That is, work to the strengths of different people in the team. Some people do better with big picture sermons, others are great with complex detail. Some are at their best on special occasions when guests are visiting. Some are great at launching a series, or concluding it. Work to the strengths of the team.
7. Don’t play every player every game. That is, just because there are six people who preach in your church, don’t automatically schedule all six in a series. You can, but you can also form a smaller sub-team for a series. Perhaps two voices for a 4 to 6 week series would make it cohere more effectively. This way the others can be preparing for the next series and playing a support role in this one.
8. A preaching team is not just a collection of preachers. Ok, typically it will be a collection of preachers. However, in an ideal world, we would be able to recognize those who are good at shaping content, others good at crafting presentation (think visual aids, for instance), and even those who are strong in delivery. Then we could genuinely strengthen the preaching of each individual preacher with the loving support of a team.
9. Beware of competition. Nothing kills the health of a ministry team quite as effectively as the insidious danger of competition. Do whatever it takes to make sure that you don’t end up in a silent struggle for praise, affirmation, prized opportunities, or whatever else our flesh might crave and corrupt.
10. Mentor preachers. Maybe you have three people that preach in your church, but what are you doing to develop others? Preaching team gatherings, preview sessions, review sessions, series planning sessions, etc., can all be places to develop others with an interest in this area of ministry. Mentor others and create a legacy together.
This is scratching the surface . . . what would you add? What does your team do that works well? What do you wish you could implement?