By Dennis Wiggs
Many churches still sponsor Bible conferences, revival meetings, missionary conferences, and other special days. Sometimes the guest speaker is left to fend for himself. Consider these suggestions on how to treat your visiting speaker.
Requesting a preacher or missionary to visit your church demands his or her time, efforts, preparation, and prayer. The very least the host pastor can do is advertise the meeting. Most newspapers will accept news articles. Some will print a picture of the guest speaker. Radio and television stations often provide spot promotions at a reasonable cost.
A letter or card to local pastors announcing the meeting could be beneficial. Neatly printed brochures or handbills could be used. ln other words, promote the meeting with effective advertising.
Prepare the Congregation
Announce the upcoming services in the bulletin several weeks in advance. Provide interesting information about the speaker. Show church members a recent picture. Be enthusiastic about his abilities and gifts, but don’t exaggerate. Over-promoting the speaker can dampen the spirits of the congregation.
The host pastor should set aside specific times to pray personally for the speaker and the services. Then, call the church to prayer. Remind the congregation often. Call on church leaders to pray audibly for the speaker. Plan home prayer meetings, all-night prayer sessions, extended mid-week prayer meetings, personal fasting and praying times, and even a week of prayer to blanket the meeting with prayer.
Be sure to pray with the guest speaker. Anoint him in prayer before and after the services. Invite a group to pray with the speaker just before the services.
If the guest speaker stays in a hotel, arrange to have a fruit, cracker, and soda basket placed in the room before he arrives. If he is diabetic, make the beverages diet and the crackers sugar free. Arrange to feed the speaker only two large meals a day. Maybe a late breakfast and an early evening meal would be adequate.
lf he stays at the home of a family in the church, alert the family about an eating schedule.
Full-time evangelists surely need more than a pastor drawing a salary from a church. But Scripture is clear. We should make careful provision for those who share God’s Word.
A good guideline for speakers would be $100 per service plus mileage at the current rate provided by the government. On the last night, receive a special love offering. Give your congregation the opportunity to practice Galatians 6:6 “Let him that is taught in the word communicate (share of finances) unto him that teacheth in all good things.”
Also, missionaries should receive generous love offerings plus pledges of monthly support. The pastor is probably the leader in these matters, encouraging and challenging the congregation. If a pastor takes care of other men of God, the Lord will provide for his own needs. Whatever is received in the offerings each night or the special offering should go to the guest speaker. It would be dishonest to announce that the offering goes to the speaker and then pocket a portion of the amount for the general fund.
Preserve the Decisions
It is usually the pastor’s responsibility to train counselors when decisions are made at the altar. Church members should be well prepared to meet with those who make decisions. Follow-up literature, decision cards, and pens, and a box of tissues should be located near the altar. Consider giving new converts a copy of Simple by Free Will Baptist pastor Rob Morgan. This short book walks new believers through the first stages of the Christian life. Visit new converts immediately. Establish a discipleship class. Ask church members to visit the new converts.
Ponder the Fruit
Immediately after the meeting ends, write a note of appreciation to the guest speaker, present an optimistic report in the bulletin, report the results to denominational publications, schedule a baptism service, write a letter of challenge to those who made decisions, and begin to plan for the next meeting.
Good meetings don’t always produce large crowds. Yet one decision for Christ, one young person who yields to enroll in a Christian college, one backslider who confesses, one church member who begins to tithe—these, plus many more decisions, prove that conducting a special meeting was worth all of the effort!
About the Writer:Dennis Wiggs retired in 2004 after many years in ministry.
Adapted from Contact magazine, December 2000.