The number one complaint I hear from other associate pastors is that they don’t get to preach enough. If Tim Keller is right when he says, “the only way you’re going to be a better preacher is if you preach often,” then we associate pastors are doomed to some pretty bad sermons for years to come.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Most associate pastors passively wait for preaching invitations to come their way. But if you truly want to grow as a preacher, you can easily preach more often by actively searching for new opportunities to share God’s Word with others.
Here are five places to begin:
1. Your current church
Start by letting your senior pastor know that you wish you had more opportunities to preach. He might tell you that one day you’ll get that chance at your own church where you can control the pulpit each week. She might begin rotating you in more often due to your eagerness and desire to grow as a preacher, or he might welcome the feedback and keep everything as it has been. No matter the response, this helps pave the way for future conversations when you request to preach elsewhere.
2. Your friend’s church
You likely know other pastors who are preaching weekly, and while this opportunity may seem glorious in your mind, many of them would greatly appreciate a week out of the pulpit to get ahead on sermon preparation, focus on other priorities, or take a vacation. Send a quick email to your friends letting them know that you’d love to relieve them one week and jump into the current series they’re doing or do a stand alone sermon. If they’re agreeable, make sure you clear it with your senior pastor first.
3. Your childhood church
While many prophets aren’t welcome in their hometown, my childhood church loves having me as a guest preacher. Congregations enjoy seeing someone in the pulpit that they had a role in shaping for ministry. It gives them a sense of pride and fruitfulness as they witness what God has done throughout the years in their church and through their church. The easiest way to make this happen is by intentionally cultivating a relationship with each new pastor of your childhood church and letting them know that you’re available.
4. Your local prison
It’s very likely that your local prison has weekly worship services. They might even be at times other than Sunday morning when you’d easily be available. Reach out to the chaplain or other people connected with ministries in your local prison and offer yourself as a resource.
Last time I preached at the local prison a man came up to me after my sermon and asked if he could have my sermon notes. He was training to be a preacher and wanted to see how other people prepared!
5. Your local nursing home
While I’ve yet to preach in a nursing home, one of my friends recently gave me this suggestion. He reminded me that we preachers, like John Wesley, must not simply wait for people and preaching opportunities to come to us. Instead, we must go to them and meet people in the places right where they are—particularly the most vulnerable.
What other ways or places have you found to develop your gift of preaching?