One thing I find myself consistently asked from people – particularly within the Uniting Church, my denomination and primary network – is this:
Do you know any new preachers?
I usually answer in two ways:
1) I’M STANDING RIGHT HERE! I CAN HEAR YOU!
2) Yes. Yes I do.
People who run churches and youth groups, whether it’s through eldership, pastoring or simply being the person who put their hand up, will know how difficult it can be to find people who faithfully and skillfully share the gospel. It doesn’t feel like it should be that hard to find someone. But it always tends to be. We choose people we know are good, people we know are available and people we know, full stop. In that order.
But the people who are in charge of the preaching roster have a powerful mandate. You have the opportunity to engage your church with a message that can powerfully transform their lives and when your thinking is lazy, the message and messengers often can be as well.
When the preaching is poor, your church won’t grow, spiritually or numerically.
Here are ten things I do to hunt down new preachers. The tips are a mix between finding established preachers that you don’t know and finding uncut gems that don’t know themselves yet!
1) Remember the past preachers
You may have skilled preachers up your sleeve that you haven’t used in a while and can speak well into your church.
Remembering your past preachers can also help you recognise what type of preachers you usually choose. Do you tend to a type ethnically? Gender-wise? In terms of their preaching topics? Where are your blind spots as a church? As a leader?
Remembering past preachers can give you an indication of who you should choose for the future.
2) Look for passion
Passion is no indicator of skill, or even calling. But it is a good indicator of someone who really loves Jesus, and that goes a long way to preparing preachers.
3) People that know their Bible
I’m always looking for preachers that use their Bible well. I can get people with other passions and skill sets to talk about those passions and skill sets, but when I’m looking for a preacher, I want someone with a full, healthy understanding of the Scriptures
4) Charismatic and engaging
This is definitely below passion and biblical understanding, but still important! When I work training young people for preaching, I tend to find they either know their Bible, or they’re charismatic and engaging. They really need both! But I find it’s harder to teach the latter.
If you know someone who is naturally engaging, they might be a great long-term project as a preacher.
5) Fresh perspectives
I’m always looking for female preachers. I’m looking for people with varied ethnic backgrounds. I’m looking for people with different life experiences. I’m looking for people from different denominations. I’m looking for people with a wide range of ages.
Those people may have the history and perspective to reach your church. They will certainly broaden your understanding of how to live out your faith.
6) Use your networks
One of the many great reasons to be connected in a church network and to find brothers and sisters in ministry is to find great new voices to speak into your church.
Once, I simply asked a few friends, “give me the name of the best preacher in your denomination under 25.” I got exactly the names I expected – but it reinforced they were the people I was looking for. I also got a couple of extra names that we brought in and spoke brilliantly.
Give your denominational leader a call and ask their thoughts. They’ll most likely have a database, or at least a longer mental Contacts list than you.
7) Use your social media
Never be afraid of throwing it out on Facebook! If people can date using e-Harmony, you can get a preacher from Facebook. It’s not going to dent your pride that much.
Just make sure that you also…
8) Podcast x infinity
Once you’ve heard a new name, the best thing to do is podcast the preacher and hear what they have to say. It shouldn’t be too hard to find for most people who have preached a few times – check out YouTube or their home church, or simply ask them if they have a copy of a message.
Podcasts are a great gift for you to check out a preacher before they come and speak. So is simply having a coffee with them!
9) Sensitivity to the Spirit & a Humble Heart
I really want both these things, mixed together. I look for preachers that are willing to change their sermon if they feel God’s not in it, that are more interested in impacting lives than their tweetable quotes and are willing to hang out with my church or youth ministry, connecting, serving and engaging with people.
I’m looking for preachers whose lives off the stage reflect their lives on the stage.
10) Champion the Young
Finally, just look for young people that you can give a chance to. Young people are usually more humble, flexible, willing to learn and naturally passionate and enthusiastic for a new opportunity than those of us with a few more years on us. They have gifts and talented just waiting to be shared. They have an ability to connect with their peers in a unique way. At The Journey UC where I am privileged to work and minister, we try and make sure that at least once a term we give youth group members the chance to be trained to preach to their peers.
Because really, part of our jobs – not as preaching trainers, but as followers of Jesus – should be to encourage and empower the young.
Good luck on your search for the next great communicator to your church!
Any other ways that have worked for you?
Did I miss anything obvious?