I love preaching the Gospel.
I love explaining the Bible to people that I shepherd as a pastor in a local church.
I love leading the preaching ministry at HighView Church.
And I also love sitting on the front row while another pastor preaches or volunteering in the children’s ministry while the church hears the Gospel proclaimed.
When HighView Church was planted 6 years ago, the decision was made to limit the number of Sunday’s that the Lead Pastor preached. Perhaps no decision has preserved my own heart and the heart of our church more than this one.
Let me say before I go any further, I understand that many faithful preaching pastors often have very few qualified men to assist them with the preaching duties of the church each week. Many men, preach 50 Sunday’s a year because they have to. I am in no way criticizing these brothers. HighView from its earliest days has had several men sufficiently gifted to preach the Gospel. I realize this is a very special gift of God’s grace and I am humbled by it regularly.
With that said, I am asked often about my commitment to having other pastors preach at HighView. Here are 3 reasons I do not preach every week.
1. To Guard My Own Heart
Preacher’s are sinners. I limit my time in front of the congregation at my local church because sustained spotlight, even for godly, useful purposes, can create new places within my heart where sin can hide and thrive. My heart is deceitful and desperately sick therefore the opiate of attention that preaching offers can become an addiction for me. One of the main ways I wage war against this temptation is by regularly scheduling Sundays where I am visibly humbled before my congregation. I need to come to church on Sunday’s, sing, confess, pray, see and hear the Gospel. I need to be reminded that I am but a weak, weary sheep in desperate need of grace. When I sit under the preached word I am pierced by the same sword I am called to pick up in the pulpit each week. I limit my preaching to guard my heart and nourish my soul.
2. To Keep the Gospel Central
The church I lead doesn’t need to hear from me. It needs to hear from God. Placing another pastor on the preaching schedule is an act of war against my desire to build a church around my personality and the church’s desire to worship a personality. Intentionally removing attention from the preacher, protects the centrality of the Gospel in a church. Pastor: Do congregants wake up on Sunday and say, “I must hear from Pastor________(fill in the blank)? Or do they wake up on Sunday and say, “I must hear from Jesus”? We cannot sincerely fight for Gospel-centrality in our churches if we are secretly creating a celebrity culture that features our giftings.
3. To Develop Leaders
Fellow Pastors: when another leader preaches the Gospel in the church we lead we are reminded of this sobering, but liberating reality: God doesn’t need us. When we truly start believing that we will begin to make room for other leaders to lead from the pulpit. Of course, we must be wise with how we steward the preaching ministries in our churches, but we must be willing to give the platform to emerging leaders in order to develop them. Short-sighted pastors horde the pulpit. Strategic pastors steward the pulpit and leverage it to raise up the pastors and preachers of the next generation. There are few things as satisfying as watching a preacher emerge and mature over time. Providing preaching opportunities is not enough, however. We must provide resources and training in order to develop great preachers. I lead a very large preaching team of almost a dozen men. Each of them is uniquely gifted. Ages range from mid 60’s to early 20’s. Each quarter the entire preaching team meets for a day to collaborate on how to improve the preaching at HighView Church. Future books of the Bible we will be preaching through are discussed and each member of the team contributes their unique vantage point on the text. I have found these meetings to be some of the most fruitful days I’ve had developing leaders.
Pastors remember: we are all interim pastors. Someday, we will preach our last sermon. But the Gospel will go on. Let us leverage our time in this unique position of influence to make room for other leaders to lead and other preachers to preach. And as we do that, our hearts will be kept, the Gospel will remain central and future leaders will be raised up.