The following is a guest article by Mark DeJesus.
Introductory note from Frank Viola: As the author of 8 bestselling books, I’ve been invited to speak in numerous churches by pastors, and I’ve always been impressed with these pastors for their willingness to expose their congregations to ministry from others. Every case where I’ve spoken, both the congregation and the leadership were immensely blessed and new friendships were made. For that reason, I often accept such invitations.
That said, Mark DeJesus nails a problem that’s prevalent in pulpits across America today. If you’re a pastor, I challenge you to take Mark’s words to heart. AND IF YOU ARE NOT A PASTOR, BUT YOU ATTEND A CHURCH AND YOU WOULD LIKE TO HEAR OTHERS SPEAK TO YOUR CHURCH, SEND THIS ARTICLE BY MARK TO YOUR PASTOR.
An Open Letter to Pastors by Mark DeJesus
I want to encourage you in this next year to do something a lot of pastors do not practice. For many it may take an intentional step of faith, but it’s necessary.
Have guest speakers come to your church . . . often.
It is a myth that in order to grow your fellowship, you as the pastor have to carry all the weight of the messages on any given Sunday. I know this has been a typical norm, but this can easily shift if we are intentional about it.
Personally, I have been on many sides of this issue. I’ve served on staff of a large church that had guest speakers and I have been the senior leader of a small church. I am now in a position where I speak and teach often at other churches.
One thing I have learned that is certain: we all need to learn from each other and gain what God is doing through the lives of other men and women of God. This means being exposed to other teachers and speakers who see things from a unique perspective that could add value and life to your congregation.
I believe in the coming years your church needs to be more intentional about having guest speakers come in and add who they are to your fellowship. In the New Testament, Paul talked about how he longed to go to certain key locations, so that he could not only impart a message, but also his very life.
There is something special about having someone who carries a message they have deeply lived through. Here is what having solid guest speakers regularly can do for your church:
1. It allow the messenger’s voice to be refreshed.
You can say the same thing over and over, but a guest speaker can say it once and people get it. This is just the nature of how communication works. When your congregation hears the same voice over and over, it can be the most amazing voice, but it becomes so familiar that you don’t hear the specific nuances that the pastor is sharing.
The message can actually become mundane, no matter how powerful it is, simply because one voice cannot bring all the church needs. Sometimes you just need another voice to say it.
I have found that today as a teacher and speaker, I can say things to the church that may be difficult for the senior leader to say. When a guest speaker is mindful of your church’s needs, they can often encourage and exhort in a way that may be hard only hearing it from the senior leader.
2. It shows you are secure.
This is where the tough part kicks in. Some pastors struggle with a certain speaker coming in, because they don’t want the people to like that teacher’s presentation better. This needs to be kicked out of our hearts immediately, for that kind of insecurity will hold the church back.
There are times when pastors didn’t have me come in and speak, but they took my materials and taught them on their own. I don’t have a problem with this, but it would be better if you had me come and impart who I am. You can take someone’s message, but you cannot replicate their heart.
Many times plain old insecurity and fear drives our decision to not have more input from outside speakers. The people in the church can feel this and will be held under that limitation.
3. It gives you strengthening where your fellowship may be weak.
Every church has major strengths and weaknesses, as no body has it all. Those weak areas can be sharpened by someone who has a specific gifting, emphasis and passion, but also walks in it daily.
4. Your strengths can go into the stratosphere.
Just because you are strong in a certain area does not mean you do not need outside assistance. Some pastors say, “We’re all set,” when it comes to guests speakers. They have deceived themselves in thinking they do not need any outside assistance.
So how do we make the change into a healthy direction? Here are some practical steps you can take in this coming year.
1. Be relational.
All ministry should flow out of relational connection first, so this means you have to be open to getting to know new people and those who are active in ministry work. Isolation is a killer when you are ministering to build a church, so get to know what God has placed in others that may be divine connections for where you are going.
It also means getting to know someone as a person so that relational credibility can be established. Take time to get to know speakers, writers, authors, bloggers, and teachers who have a powerful message that your congregation could benefit from.
Block off the year where you want to have guest speakers at key times. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you key themes that certain speakers can help bring to your fellowship.
If you or you congregation has been helped by an author and his or her book, find their website and invite them to speak at your church. Most authors speaks and they will gladly give you their speaking requirements.
In order to make this happen, you have to face your fears and address those insecurities that don’t allow you to reach out and get help from other speakers and authors in the body.