We are in the midst of our annual revival meetings. Our guest speaker this year is Pastor Thomas Park of Sacramento Ark Mission Church.
Many people have complimented us for inviting good guest speakers every year. If this is true, it might be because we have good criteria. I don’t necessarily invite speakers who have reputations of being good preachers. Anyone with a keen understanding of human psychology who enjoys talking can develop a reputation for being a good preacher by honing his preaching techniques. I don’t necessarily invite pastors of big churches either, because with a knack in management and zeal, I believe anyone can make his church grow numerically.
I look for three things in speakers before I invite them.
First, I look for people who demonstrate some kind of sacrifice in their lives. Something separate from the inherent sacrifice involved in growing their churches. Even secular CEOs who want their companies to grow can make such sacrifices. The sacrifice I have in mind is the kind that people make to obey the Lord.
Second, I look for people who live what they preach. This is hard to determine with preachers I don’t personally know. But their sermon tapes are a good guide. If they use sermon illustrations from their own lives, I feel reasonably sure that they live what they preach.
Third, I look for speakers who are different from me. If they are similar in their thinking or ministry style, our congregation may not benefit as much from their preaching. When they have different backgrounds and experiences from mine, our church members benefit more from their message.
The size of a pastor’s congregation or their renown is not part of the selection criteria, nor should it be. Up until a few years ago, our church held an annual family retreat. One year the speaker was a pastor of a church with 50 members, and our members were blessed by his messages.
It is said that it is hard for guest speakers to preach at mega-churches because their members are so used to hearing great sermons. Simple messages by simple preachers do not satisfy them. My hope is that our church members never become so arrogant, but are ministered by any honest sermon that comes from a preacher’s heart.
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