By Dennis Wiggs
If another pastor asks you to conduct a revival meeting or preaching conference, consider it an honor. But it is also an awesome responsibility. The young pastor should turn down this opportunity unless the following can be executed:
Seek the Lord’s guidance in the messages you should deliver as the visiting preacher. Using sermons previously preached may be appropriate, however, that congregation deserves your best.
Anoint the messages in prayer. Type or write the sermons again. Prepare your heart, mind, and soul for this great challenge.
Leaving town for a few days demands preparation. Make a list of everything that must be done before departing. Check off the items as they are accomplished. Who will teach your Sunday School class, preach in your absence, and prepare the bulletin? Who will be given the telephone number so that members will know where to call in case of an emergency? Stop the mail and newspaper, if your wife is going with you.
A few days before the meeting is scheduled, call the pastor to confirm the date. (How many preachers have shown up a week early or arrived too late?) Write down the exact hour the pastor expects you for the first service. Are you expected to eat a meal before the first service? Write down the time. (You may be young, but even young preachers forget.)
Get exact directions to the church, parsonage, or restaurant. Plan ahead. Leave in plenty of time, considering heavy traffic or auto trouble. (That pastor is somewhat nervous anyway, knowing you may not arrive on time for the first service.) Better to be early for this important engagement
Pave the Way
Visit with the congregation before and after the services, Shake hands. Learn names. Be friendly. Smile.
Preach With Wisdom
Use old-fashioned common sense. Preaching to a new congregation is difficult for them and for their preacher. Preach the Word. Refrain from making statements, telling jokes, or giving illustrations that may offend someone in the congregation.
Remember, you have been called to that church to edify the saints, evangelize the sinners, and encourage the weak. Do just that.
Promote the Pastor
Some well-meaning sister or brother may approach the visiting preacher about a church problem or their dissatisfaction with the pastor. Refuse to get involved. Brag on the pastor (in a reasonable way, of course). Defend him, if necessary. Speak well of him. Never make any statement that may reflect poorly upon the shepherd of that flock.
Be willing to visit with the pastor. Be at his beckoning. Be a servant to his plans for the day.
Practice Ethical Behavior
Refuse to sit up late and talk with the pastor about denominational problems. Refrain from being know-it-all. Get a good night’s sleep so you can face the next day with alertness. Don’t sit up late and watch television. Spend time in the room provided for you in prayer and sermon preparation. Don’t flirt with the pastor’s wife or daughter. Hang up your clothes in the closet. Make your bed. Bathe or shower daily. Take out small portions of food, begin to eat last, eat slowly, and refuse to be a glutton.
Pray With the Pastor
Maybe the pastor will not mention praying together, but encourage prayer at the church altar sometime each day. Bathe every service in prayer. If the pastor does not encourage such actions, be sure to meet with the Lord privately on behalf of the services and spiritual fruit.
Preach for Decisions
Preaching God’s Word as a guest preacher gives you the opportunity to minister to people who have problems. Straightforward Bible preaching reveals sin. Anointed sermons produce spiritual fruit. Give invitations. Trust the Holy Spirit to bring conviction. Don’t try to do the work of the Holy Spirit, but pray and believe in commitments that produce changed lives.
Praise the Lord
Preaching at other churches may prove to be spiritually fruitful. Praise the Lord for the results. Refuse to praise self. The preacher is just a tool, a vessel, a channel. Rejoice in the Lord’s blessings. Reject pride. Return home exalting the Lord for the privilege and honor of preaching Cod’s Word to another congregation.
About the Writer:Dennis Wiggs retired in 2004 after many years in ministry.
Adapted from Contact magazine, March 2008.