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Acquired Tips on How to Be a Guest Preacher

A seasoned preacher offers tips on how to be an effective guest preacher

1. Communicate well.

Aim to learn what their worship services are normally like, look at their standard order of service or ask to see the service of the previous week(s), as you make your selections. Follow their established order of worship and other conventions observed by the church. They need to know from you what your Scripture, text, sermon, and theme are…at least a week ahead of time.

2. Know directions.

Where is the church? What is the best route from my home?  How long will it take? How   much ahead of time should I leave my home? What time do their services start? How much ahead of time would they like me there? Leaders get very nervous if guest preachers arrive too late. It is most courteous to arrive at least 30 minutes before the service begins.

3. Be sensitive to local customs.

Since I am entering their community, I will need to abide by their customs. A conversation ahead of time will give me the opportunity to discover matters such as: what are they accustomed to in sermon length?  What is the proper attire—robe, suit, sport coat, casual?  Observe generally accepted standard of good dress and grooming in the pulpit. Which Bible translation do they use? Do they have any special practices that are uniquely theirs that I should be aware of? What type of microphone will I be using?

4. Review the liturgy.

A conversation with the pastor, an elder, musician, or other worship leader will be very helpful to all. How much of the service do I lead? Are the songs announced? Are they projected or do worshipers use hymnals? What special needs should be included in prayer? How is the offering handled? Should I greet worshipers at the close of the service? Where? Are there any other special instructions I should be aware of?

5. Arrange for preparatory prayer.

Who meets together before the service? What time should I be there? Where do we meet? Be present early enough so all discussions about the service can be completed before the time for prayer.

6. Be cordial.

Show interest in the other persons who meet with you. Learn their names, their role of service, and introduce yourself to them if they are hesitant to do so with you. Get acquainted with and express gratitude to the person who serves as your host.

Especially for seminarians…

7. Be an ambassador.

When a seminarian serves as a guest preacher, he or she clearly is a representative of a seminary. It is fitting to bring greetings to the local congregation from the seminary and the seminary community. An expression of thanks for the seminary will be very meaningful to folks who have been supporting the seminary with their gifts for many years.

8. Make provision for sermon evaluations.

Must your sermons be evaluated by a representative sampling of members of the congregation? Know how many evaluations you need per service and how many evaluated services you need to fulfill seminary requirements. Request assistance from someone, perhaps the elder who hosts you, to distribute sermon evaluation forms within the congregation.