Speaking Guidelines for Guest Preachers
Thank you for serving our church by filling in when Jeff is out and can't preach. The Bible says in 1st Peter 4:11 – that all the spiritual gifts break down into 2 main categories: Speaking Gifts and Serving Gifts. You have been asked to speak from the front at Gracelife because we believe you have been gifted by the Holy Spirit to speak on behalf of God. Halleluijah!
With that said - you are also part of a church with certain beliefs and practices and a specific vision - and every time you speak - you not only represent God - but also Gracelife Beachside. Having so many different people speak from the platform on a Sunday-to-Sunday basis is refreshing because it shows diversity in the body of Jesus. At the same time – it’s a challenge because every person has a different passion and way of communicating God’s Truth.
In order to leverage the best of both worlds – and preserve your unique way of communicating Truth - and yet also remain consistent with the overall vision/mission of Gracelife church – we’ve developed the following speaking guidelines. We ask everyone to abide by these rules when you speak from the platform on Sunday mornings. By following these guidelines – we ensure as a church that we speak clearly and consistently as a church body – no matter who’s up front from Sunday-to-Sunday. Appreciate you all.
General Speaking Guidelines
Guideline #1: Memorize our Vision/Mission/Values.
Because you speak publicly for our church – it’s important that you truly understand and own “WHO” we are – and what our church is all about. With that in mind - every person who speaks from the platform should be able to clearly articulate our Vision Statement, Church Motto, Core Values and Core Commitments if asked to. Please memorize the follwoing 4 elements - and when the Holy Spirit moves you - share parts of them with the congregation while you are up there.
VISION STATEMENT: WHY DO WE EXIST?
GraceLife Beachside exists to make disciples of the Beachside community thru multiplying Small Groups and Therapeutic Outreach. We seek to provide a safe place where the unchurched and de-churched can rethink their lives and explore a relationship with Jesus Christ.
CHURCH MOTTO: WHO ARE WE?
GraceLife Beachside: Your Refuge by the sea.
CORE VALUES: HOW DO WE BEHAVE?
1. With Grace - We are humble as our Lord and Savior Jesus was humble. We don’t scold each other, berate each other – or motivate by fear.
2. With Authenticity - We are an open and honest church – we tell the truth at all times and freely confess our faults. Because the Gospel tells us that we have nothing to fear, nothing to prove and nothing to hide – we practice transparency with confidence.
3. With Joy - We are a joyful body of believers who like to laugh and not take ourselves too seriously – while at the same time - we take our mission very seriously. Even though we like to laugh – it’d be a mistake to underestimate us – our joy makes us tenacious
CORE COMMITMENTS: HOW WILL WE SUCCEED?
1st – We will be Gratitude-Driven and Shame-Averse
2nd - We will embrace Sacrifice and shun Comfort.
3rd – We will stress Cooperation over Competition
4th – We will choose Trust instead of Suspicion
5th - We will gladly Send rather than Hoard
Guideline #2: Try to mention the Church Motto
We really want to brand our church as a "refuge by-the-sea" and in order to do that - we need to find creative ways to consistenly work the church motto into the flow of the service and sermons. It’s as easy as just saying: “this is Gracelife church – your Refuge by the Sea.”
Guideline #3: Shoot for 40.
Whenever I preach, I shoot for a 40 minute sermon. I realize that may sound short to you as many of our CORE peeps know the Bible very well and they can handle sitting for an hour listening to the Scriptures. However... we are missionaries and the people we are trying to reach are NOT used to sitting through hour-long sermons. We have to keep in mind that people’s minds can only absorb as much as their fanny will allow. With that in mind, I shoot for a 40 minute sermon every Sunday. I realize we all get “caught up in the Spirit” and sometimes go over, but if we shoot for a 40 minute message and we go over a wee bit from time to time it’s no biggie. If you shoot for 40 mins and you get excited and you go 45, that’s okay to do from time to time.
At the same time, it’s also okay if you get “moved by the Spirit” and decide it’s best to land the plane early because you see that you’ve lost people and your sermon goes a little short. We’ve all been there and nobody has their best stuff all the time. Sometimes Clayton Kershaw pitches 8 innings, other times he’s pulled in the 3rd because he just doesn’t have it that day. There is no shame in being human. Many times in my study something seems like it’s gonna kill, and when I preach it, it’s like nobody is responding and I hear that buzzer in my head from the Price is Right when they “price out” wah-wah-wah-wah-wahhhhhhh! Anyway, watch the body language of the congregation and when you see peoples shoulders start to slump and people start to fidget in their seat (no, that’s not gas), that’s the Spirit prompting you to wrap it up, broskie.
Guideline #4: Define Theological Terms
Words like “propitiation” and “justification” are so stinkin’ cool to us because they are packed with rich meaning (and they show how smart we are when we use them!) However they are gobbledygook to newbies and seekers. They don’t know what it means to be “justified by faith alone” and so when you are using theological words, be sure to define them. Illustrating them is even better!!!!
In fact, here’s a good rule of thumb to use when you are trying to ascertain whether or not to define a term and explain it during your sermon. Ask yourself: Do non-Christians use this word in their normal everyday vocabulary? For example: do you hear your coworkers talk about going out to the bar after work and having “sweet fellowship” together with other? Probably not, right?! They don’t normally use the word “fellowship” in their everyday vocabulary, they say “hanging out” instead. What this means is you probably should either define the word “Fellowship” when you use it or just say “hanging out” instead. We have to be so careful to define terms and avoid using “insider language.” Insider language is language that is only understood by the “insiders” (see how I just defined my terms). Insider language puts hurdles in front of the Gospel message.
Guideline #5: Use Illustrations
You need to have lots of illustrations in your sermons. There I said it. Now I know what you might be thinking: “But Jeff, I don’t think people need a story teller on Sunday mornings, they need a preacher! They need nothing but the WORD!!! Why are we watering it down with illustrations and stories???” I agree that people need the Word, however Truth that isn’t illustrated IS NOT AS EFFECTIVE AS TRUTH THAT IS ILLUSTRATED. That is why - Jesus was a master story teller! Still not convinced??? Let’s try something fun then… let’s do the “Was Jesus a story-teller” exercise. Let’s ask ourselves objectively: Did Jesus use illustrations or did He simply “Give ‘em the meat of the Word!” Let’s find out!
First, rummage through your junk drawer at home and find 2 highlighters of different colors (yellow and blue are the holiest colors by the way). Then open up to Matthew chapter 5 and read slowly the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). As you read, do the following:
Highlight in yellow – Every time Jesus uses : (I gave you a few hints below…)
- Vivid language
- Illustrations – “Enter thru the narrow gate” (Jesus illustrates heaven as a gate)
- Similes – “Do not be LIKE the HYPOCRITES” (similes use “like” or “as” to make comparisons”)
- Metaphors - “You are the SALT of the earth”
Highlight with blue any appeals that Jesus makes to:
- Human Experience
- Our imagination, mind, or conscience.
- Note: Look for statements like, “think. . .”, or “imagine. . .”, or “have you ever. . .” or “Consider…” – these are designed to get the reader to think through or about what is being preached.
Now - take a step back from your Bible - and look at the overall colors... What have you discovered about Jesus’ use of illustrations and appeals to his listeners imaginations? Exactly!!! If you have read slowly enough your Bible should be covered in yellow and blue. White should be in the vast minority! What does this teach us? That Jesus wasn’t just concerned to give people “Facts." His sermons weren't "data dumps" - He wanted Truth to LIVE in His listeners so He was constantly illustrating Truth. He never went more than a few words without illustrating what He was saying. In fact, one of my favorite professors in seminary said this about preaching,
“Homiletics, which addresses issues related to sermon delivery, is the science and art of preaching. It is the preacher’s job not merely to preach the word, but to preach it in such a way that people hear, understand and remember. People need to hear the message, or it will not profit them. People must also be able to understand the message, or it will not profit them. People also must remember the message, or it will not profit them.” – Jack Hughes
What does this all mean? It means using illustrations and word pictures in your sermons doesn’t make you a story teller, it makes you like Jesus. Preaching a sermon that is a “Data Dump” and has 500 verses in it with no illustrations - doesn’t make you “faithful” it makes you lazy and stubborn! To use a baking analogy - anybody can collect ingredients from the fridge but only a chef makes it into a meal. Now spend some time crafting that data dump of flour, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla into a delicious cake for those you’re feeding!!!
Guideline #6: Use Application (Tell them what to do!)
Knowledge without obedience “puffs up” but doesn’t “build up” which is why James says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:22
We have a responsibility to not only TEACH the Truth but also APPLY it. Give thoughtful, grace-driven suggestions on how this Truth could and should make a difference in your hearer’s life. Again, application is part of faithful preaching as Jesus not only illustrated the Truth, He also applied it! In fact, open back up to the Sermon on the Mount again and circle with a red pen this time (or highlight with red or a pink highlighter) every time Jesus used the second person to address his hearers i.e.:
- You, your, yourselves
- The all-inclusive words like “whosoever,” “anyone who,” “everyone who,” “all who,” etc.
What have we found? That Jesus was constantly applying His teaching to His listeners. Without thoughtful application, people will just listen to our sermons but never take them seriously. We should seek to inspire, motivate and encourage our people to live the Truth we preach!
Guideline #7: Make sure Christ is the hero of your sermon
It's not enough to just preach on a topic, illustrate it well - and apply it to your listeners. The sermon should ultimately promote/call for greater dependence upon Jesus Christ. Whether it's:
- A sermon on doubt - and faith in Jesus is the answer.
- Or it's a sermon lust - and the Holy Spirit in us empowering our purity is the answer.
- Or it's a general call for salvation - and Jesus is the answer.
No matter the topic, text, or trouble people are facing - Christ is the answer. We don’t preach SOLABOOTSTRAPSA sermons which consist of exhorting people to “Do Better” “Try Harder.” Apart from God they can do NOTHING (John 15 style). We need to make sure that the main "take-away" from our sermons is a greater trust in Christ. Jesus is the means & motivation for life and godliness.
Guideline #8: MAKE SURE TO DO A POST SERMON RECAP
Our Home Groups are tethered to the Sermons on Sundays and many of our leaders rely upon us sending along a sermon recap after we preach each week. With that in mind, whenever you preach make sure to send a Post Sermon Recap over to Pam email@example.com no later than Monday evening. This ensures that we can get the recap emailed out to our home group leaders before they meet (our first home groups meet on Tuesday nights). A sample Post Sermon Recap by Pastor Jeff is below.
Sample Sermon Recap Email
Parable of the Talents: Risk
Good afternoon home group leaders!
Online Sermon Link: Sermon should be up and posted here soon: http://gracelifebeach.com/sermons
Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30
There were 3 servants – who were each given various amounts by the Master. Some were more productive with their money than others – but 1 guy hid his talent in the ground. This shows he was not a true follower of God as Faith – Works is dead. Martin Luther said one time - “We are saved by faith alone, but true faith never remains alone.”
If that sets off our heresy detector – then here’s a handy little formula to help you how to distinguish true faith from legalism:
Faith + Works = Salvation (Legalism)
Faith = Salvation + Works (Christianity)
Main Takeaway: Here’s the main point of the Parable of the Talents: Your fruitfulness and the risks you take in the Christian life, are directly related to your view of God. The 2 productive servants viewed God as a giver. The 1 disobedient servant viewed God as a Taker.
Matthew Henry – This servant’s ill affection toward God arose from his false thoughts about Him; and nothing is more unworthy of God, nor more hinders our duty to him, than slavish fear. This has bondage and torment, and is directly opposite to that entire love which the great commandment requires. Hard thoughts of God drive us from God, and cramp us in his service.
Key Illustration: Deer in Headlights.
Group Discussion Questions:
- What was a takeaway for you from Sunday’s sermon?
- Have you ever been tempted to view God as a “Taker” instead of a “Giver”? How did that impact your obedience/risk?
- Affirm someone else in your homegroup who views God as a “Giver” – and speak truth / encouragement into their life. Let them know now!
- What practical steps [besides attending Gracelife hehe] are you taking to shift your view of God from “Giver” to “Taker”?
Also – don’t forget – to announce that this Sunday we will continue our Missionary Training! Be there at 8:45 for prayer!!! This will be a very important time where our church can get on the same page!!!
Appreciate you all!