To develop people who can preach takes time and effort. Like a bad diet is easier than eating healthy, it is easier not to raise up new preachers and just keep a heavy load of preaching. It is the path of less friction. To form a preaching team requires commitment. Pastors love the idea of raising up new preachers and having preaching teams, but execution typically lags, if ever done at all.
At The Journey Church, we have an incredible group of men who preach God’s Word. We have developed them at our church. Our preaching team includes me and three other guys (Anthony Knight, Trey Etheridge, and Larry Davis). The four of us, plus our Worship Pastor (Brett Perkins) meet each Monday. We work hard to sharpen our craft and produce sermons that glorify Jesus and generate life change in our congregation.
We did not arrive here overnight. And we don’t improve merely with the passage of time. It takes strategic time and purposeful actions to develop preachers and a preaching team. Here are five steps for how you can do it.
1. Commit to do it.
That may sound easy, but you have to make the decision to develop preachers. You must strengthen their teachings gifts. This is especially true if you want them to preach regularly and not just low attendance weekends. To create a disciple-making culture of developing preachers, leaders must decide to do it. That is the first step. This keeps busyness or people rather hearing you preach from hindering your follow through on this vision.
2. Prepare sermons together.
Assemble the potential preachers to help you with sermon prep. This may require changing when you prep, but nothing can replace young preachers being in the room as you work through sermon development. They need to watch ideas take shape, how to break passages down, and learn to apply the text to people’s lives. Let them take part and throw ideas in. Assign someone to gather illustrations for a particular point. Even if these men are not preaching, they learn by participating in the preparation process, from creation to delivery.
3. Review and Rehearse sermon before preaching.
Once you assign someone the opportunity to preach, review the sermon manuscript with them. Make sure the theology is sound, the flow is smooth, and the ideas are clear. Give feedback and help with the manuscript so you can sharpen content for them. After the manuscript is ready to go, require them preach to you and/or the preaching team. This can be awkward, since there are only a few people gathered, but this prepares them to preach in any setting. The goal of this time is give them feedback that will help the sermon. Rehearsal increases familiarity with the sermon before preaching to the church.
4. Evaluate and Improve the sermon after they preach.
They did it. They preached to the church. Now what? Sit down with them and provide feedback. There are different ways to approach this, but I write three things they did well, and three things they can improve. They do it too. Then we review our notes with each other. This takes about 45 minutes to an hour to do. It is amazing how much a sit down like this can improve someone’s preaching. I have watched incredible growth from one sermon to the next because of a sit down that gave specific feedback.
5. Schedule more opportunities.
Once you review their sermon and give them feedback, schedule their next preaching date. Let them help with sermon prep, but get a date on the calendar they can look forward to. Preachers get better with reps. They can read about preaching and listen to past sermons, but nothing beats preaching. The previous steps and more reps will dramatically improve preaching ability.
Any church can start a preaching team. You could just throw anyone in the pulpit with minimal training and oversight. But that kind of preaching team model will not fly in most congregations. I don’t recommend it. Nothing is more important in a church’s corporate gathering than the proclaiming of God’s Word through preaching. It merits being done with excellence, and our people deserve to feast from the riches of Scripture. It requires leaders in the church to commit in order to do it well. Developing preachers and a preaching team is a great goal. It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding work. The steps I have outlined will help you get there.