A family checking out our church on their fourth week at The Bridge commented to one of our pastors, “This is our fourth week here, and we haven’t heard the main guy, yet!”
Granted, they were not here four weeks in a row, and I don’t like to think of myself as the main guy, but there’s no doubt, I’ve been speaking less, this last year in particular.
It didn’t use to be that way. Early in my ministry, I spoke every week without missing for a couple of years…52 weeks straight, 2-3 years in a row. In my first couple of years here, I spoke 50 weeks of the 52, only taking a couple off. As other capable communicators came on staff, I whittled that down to 40 weeks a year, which used to be my goal. This last year, it will be 30 weeks.
Some wonder if I’m over-worked and needing to take the time off to rest. Others think I’m grooming my son to take over. Neither are true. Actually, we are doing things this way for two reasons. The first is more important.
It is best for the health of the church.
I’ve become convinced that it is better for you, and everyone in the congregation, to hear from more than one voice. I’ve been a bit concerned with the superstar mentality that is out there in American evangelicalism, where some pastors, musicians and authors are lifted up to celebrity status. It’s not good for the person being elevated or the church doing it. God’s people are served best when we are getting our nourishment from a variety of sources, all emanating from God’s Word. Granted, even if I’m speaking every week, I’m not going to be a super star. That thought is comical. But it is too easy for some to become overly dependent on the pastor they hear weekly. And I think we pay better attention and learn more when teaching material is varied up and brought to us with differing styles and from different personalities.
We are Launching a new location with live teaching.
Second, we will be launching a new campus late next Spring, and we are committed to live teaching. That means our concept of team teaching needs to have taken root by then and both campuses will do better if we don’t have to undergo a transition in teaching personalities at the same time. By then, it will be standard procedure for you to hear Junior, me, and maybe one other, in any given series.
Will this continue in the future? Yes. And we plan to expand it. As we add locations, we will add speakers. But we are absolutely committed to keeping the standard high, that every speaker be gifted and qualified, and every sermon accurate and practical, rooted in God’s Word and delivered in a compelling way.
That’s why I’m speaking less. I’m not overworked. I’m not trying to put my son out there. We believe this is for the health of the Body of Christ and all of us will grow in a greater way because of it.