I value the proclaiming of God’s word on Sunday mornings more than I value anything else that we do as the gathered church. While I certainly value other things, everything else takes a back seat. And it’s for precisely this reason that I’m intentionally off the stage once a month. This is the fourth part of a series of posts where I want to convince you to put your lay leaders in the pulpit on a regular basis. To start at the beginning, click here.
Reason #4: Because we want to grow the leaders we have
Waiting for some one or something to grow is something that often frustrates me. I have no discernible patience and it gets me in trouble sometimes. (Ok, a lot of the time…) I have a tendency to force an issue and there have been countless times where it has ended up creating as many problems as I was trying to fix in the first place.
But then there are other times. Times that you’ve just got to throw someone into the deep end of the pool and let them figure it out. Call it “sink or swim”, or “rising to the opportunity”, it doesn’t really matter; we’ve all been in circumstances where we either had to find a way to pull it off or we were going to be in trouble. And I’m going to assume that at least a few of those moments are now times that you look back on with pride because you got it done.
Both of these methods have pros and cons and both of these methods are, at times correctly implemented as an act of love toward someone else. The experienced teacher will keep both of them on their tool belt.
And this is another reason why you should put some of your lay leaders in the pulpit every once in a while. Most of them have probably never preached a sermon before. Many of them are probably terrified by the thought of it all. Some of them may immediately reject your request because it’s “not their gift”. But a pastor that wants to see his lay leaders grow will pursue them anyways. Why?
Because, as their shepherd, you want to see them grow and there is nothing in this world that grows someone in understanding a subject more than the responsibility to turn around and teach it to someone else. Whether they are driven by a desire to see how all the pieces fit together or they are driven by a fear of getting it all wrong— Putting them in places and in circumstances where they’ve just got to figure it all out is going to produce some good things. Note that I did not say a good sermon. I said good things.
This doesn’t mean that you throw them in the deep end and then walk away. You’re there to help them. You’re there to answer their questions and shape the way they’re thinking about the text. In our case, I’m there to loan them the commentaries I’d rather have them reading and to talk about how they’re going to approach things several weeks in advance. For some of our guys, I ask that they give me an outline so I can critique things and make needed corrections about a week before they’re supposed to preach it. But make no mistake— It’s on them. And our church is better for it.
Because they come out the other side as lay leaders who have spent a considerable amount time wrestling with the scriptures. The’ve spent more time reading extra-biblical material than they’ve ever even imagined themselves reading. The’ve thought intentionally about how to present the text simply and practically. They have prayed through the text and considered how the scriptures apply to them and the rest of the church.
I don’t know about you, but those are exactly the types of lay leaders I want for our church. Those are the types of lay leaders that God powerfully uses in other capacities around our church body.
First-time swimmers rarely ever have the best form. To be completely honest, it’s sometimes pretty awkward to watch. But that’s a trade I will gladly make any day of the week.