Deepen Your Bench (Or Empower Others to Preach)

We all have a little bit of ego right? Even when it comes to the role of preaching. The thought creeps into our heads “I HAVE to preach 50 weeks a year or there is going to be a drop in quality” or even “well if he preaches twelve times this year what if they like him better?”

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As communicators of the Gospel we must “deepen our bench” or in other words empower others to preach and communicate from the pulpit, stage, podium, or music stand. This is an important concept. If we look at the best sports teams in the world they have depth on their rosters. The advantage to this is the extra competition makes athletes better but also if one falls into a performance rut another can take over and excel.

My favorite international soccer (football) team is West Ham United in London. Their best player is Dmitri Payet. Payet just hurt is leg and is out for three months, does West Ham have the depth to succeed without him? We will see. Or take Ohio State’s football (American) team last year. In August starting quarterback Braxton Miller went down with a season ending injury, during the season JT Barrett took over and did admirably, leading the team to an 11-1 regular season record. But then Barrett went down with an injury and in his place Cardale Jones won the Big Ten championship game, the first round of the playoffs and the national championship game! What impressive depth!

I can tell you in a small church setting “deepening the preaching bench” so to speak is hard to do. You are the only staff member, maybe no one else has shown a gift or passion for preaching, what do you do?

But some of us do have other staff members talented, gifted, God-Fearing leaders who can communicate. In these situations it should not be too difficult for you to “deepen your bench.” But it still is difficult. 

Today I want to look at the absolute need we have as preachers to “deepen our bench” I know it can be hard to do this so let’s first start out with facing some objections to this principle:

But. I’m The Best

Let’s address this head on. Hopefully if you are the preaching pastor, senior minister, teacher, lead communicator or whatever your title may be, you are gifted and passionate about teaching God’s word from the pulpit week in and week out. What a great thing! What this does not mean though is that you are the only one in the church who can communicate Biblical truths in a clear and compelling way.

You must empower other staff members or even just lay leaders to communicate upfront as well. You might be the best but that does not mean you are the only gifted one. And honestly, it should not matter who is best anyway. 

My Church Does Not Like The Idea

This is a very valid objection at first glance. Many churches especially smaller churches say “hey we pay you to preach every week, what do you mean you want to deepen the bench?”

But it is our job to work hard so that people can see past this objection. Give it a trial run and see what happens.

So after we get past the objections how can we best utilize this practice and deepen the bench?

Equip Rising Communicators

Even in a small church most likely there will be at least one person who could be considered a rising communicator. Identify these people and equip them.

For example: maybe there is a teen in your church who loves Jesus, is president of student council, known to make inspiring speeches at halftime of football games, and excels on the debate team. Why shouldn’t this person be delivering God’s word from the pulpit!?

Or maybe there is a 35 year old who has a management position at work and they regularly have to give presentation. Equip this person to hone those skills into regularly and effectively communicating the Gospel.

Take him under your wing, give him the proper resources and let him loose on your church!

Promote and Encourage Them

Once you start to develop a preaching bench make sure you are on their side. Talk them up from the pulpit, promote when they are going to speak, encourage, encourage, encourage.

Make sure to promote and encourage both publicly and privately to inspire confidence and trust.

Put the “Team” First

Starting to feel overshadowed by the great bench you are developing? Great! You are doing it right. Always put the team first. It is not a competition to see who gets the most praise and love. Work hard to develop an effective, powerful, and Godly teaching team and you will see inspiring results-both in the communicators and the audience. 

Replace Yourself

This is a common principle in leadership. But you should be able to leave, take a sabbatical, retire, or whatever and feel confident that the communication is in good hands. Could you do this today? If not start tomorrow!

 

What are you doing develop and deepen your preaching bench? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Joe Hoagland

Joe Hoagland

Joe is a pastor at Grape Grove Church of Christ in Jamestown, Ohio. He is newly married to his awesome wife Jenna and together they have 2 spoiled dogs and a cat.

He loves to lead people to Jesus and preach God's word.

You can often times find Joe hiking, camping, writing, reading, or enjoying technology.