Planning For Guest Speakers

DOES the pastor have a responsibility to the guest speaker as well as to his congregation when planning for a guest speaker? Does the guest speaker have a responsibility to the congregation to treat it as a unique group even though his standard preaching procedures have fared well elsewhere?

-Pastor of the Bay Knoll Seventh-day Adventist church in Rochester, New York, at the time this article was written

DOES the pastor have a responsibility to the guest speaker as well as to his congregation when planning for a guest speaker? Does the guest speaker have a responsibility to the congregation to treat it as a unique group even though his standard preaching procedures have fared well elsewhere?

Too often the local pastor is awed by his guest to the point of assuming that the guest speaker doesn't need his suggestions. Then, too, sometimes the guest speaker presumes that because no advice is forth coming none is needed. In these instances the communication between pastor and guest is limited to how to get to the church and how to get into the pulpit properly. The pastor may think that anything more than this instruction may be considered offensive.

There is no doubt that the local pastor will not get to be a conference president by telling his conference president that the local congregation does not pay overtime wages for overtime. But, diplomatically speaking, he should mention that it might be helpful for the guest speaking conference president to know that the last two consecutive worship services included appeals for consecration that extended far past the normal closing time. The pastor would not have to presume to tell the conference president what to do under the circumstances, only what already has been done.

Selecting the Topic

A guest speaker should capitalize on the advantage of selecting his most effective material, but the pastor need not leave the selection of topic entirely to his guest. More than to avoid consecutive duplication, it is the responsibility of the local pastor to provide a balanced pulpit diet for his congregation.

Frequency of guest speakers is often dictated by geography and sometimes by circumstances seemingly beyond the pastor's control. But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. When the pastor becomes a guest speaker in his own pulpit, there is no local pastor to introduce him to the singular opportunities of his own congregation.

This, then, is the role of the local pastor: to introduce the guest speaker to unique focal opportunities. The more the guest knows about the situation the more effective he likely will be. There are exceptions to this idea, but the implication is that the local pastor is likely to be more effective most of the time.

If the pastor can conceptualize the role of guest speakers as specialists in surgery, pediatrics, or even geriatrics, then it is possible to call in a specialist to treat a particular need of the church. When a local pas tor diagnoses an allergy in the body of the church, he won't call in a dentist.

Even when there is an emergency and a guest speaker is needed in a hurry, it is a shame to send an obstetrician when the congregation isn't even in labor.


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-Pastor of the Bay Knoll Seventh-day Adventist church in Rochester, New York, at the time this article was written

March 1973

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