Today's Devotional Insight...
Building a Preaching Team: How and Why We Have Changed Our Preaching Calendar
Quite a few people have spoken to me about how they have noticed that the preaching calendar has changed at BBC this year. I have even had some chirps (well meaning I am sure) asking me if I have retired, or if I am being disciplined, as people aren’t seeing as much of me in the pulpit as they used to. I thought it would be helpful to be explicit on what we are trying to accomplish through the changes.
Over the past few years God has done some amazing stuff in the congregation known as Bryanston Bible Church. This has resulted in a steady numerical growth leading us to launch new services (we have added two more to the two we already had) and plant another church in Midrand (something we hope to keep doing).
On any given Sunday then there are five services across the two churches, and up until December last year, the preacher who preached in Bryanston would have to preach all four services on a Sunday at that location. As we assessed the fruit of this late last year we thought it was becoming unhealthy for a few reasons – that will be outlined below – and so the Teaching Team, together with our Operations Director and Elders sat down to come up with what we think is a healthier and more sustainable plan. I am really appreciative that this team recognized this and bought the new way forward.
Here are the three reasons we thought the preaching plan became unhealthy and unhelpful:
The Cult of Personality Is Strong in Churches and We Were Just Feeding That
The “celebrity pastor” trend isn’t a new one – Paul even had to deal with it in the church in Corinth – but I do feel that it does inhibit the work of making disciples that the church is supposed to be engaged in. It leads inevitably to bigger buildings which are typically only well used for one generation (big buildings aren’t necessarily wrong, but church history is filled with empty auditoriums after the one really dynamic guy left, fell into public sin or died). It leads to gifted communicators getting book deals and security details that remove them from face to face contact with the people they are supposed to shepherd, which inevitably tests their true character and often finds them wanting in this area. It leads to the celebrating of one gift over the value of others in the body. We celebrate the one who has a gift of teaching and often ignore the many with gifts of faith, administration, service, hospitality and evangelism etc.
The way this played out at BBC is that I would preach the vast majority of the time and would fill the pulpit with someone else when I needed a rest or had to be somewhere else due to traveling or leave. This is a dangerously addictive cycle that results in inevitable and predictable attendance patterns which only continue to fuel the problem. When I preached, we had high numbers, and when I didn’t, well then we didn’t. It is a great way to make someone feel needed, but it is a terrible sign of Christian maturity and so should be seen as a failure in a congregation and not as a success for a primary preaching voice.
Today’s Pastoral Resource...
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