BIG DAY – This Guy Had Better Be Good…

When content is king and people learn to trust that the theme will be helpful, regardless of who is preaching… where does that leave the preacher? Should we even care who is preaching?

Despite our emphasis on the importance of a content-driven theme, the guest preacher that you choose for your event is not to be an afterthought, as if he plays no role in “your” event. It is highly arrogant to think that the theme is all-sufficient, as if God uses your or my theme instead of using a man.

God’s plan has not changed, and the supernatural effect of using a preacher can never be outdone by human antics. God’s plan still includes a frail human vessel that is yielded to Him. The preacher allows the Word to work first IN him, and then THROUGH his experience and personality, he preaches TO others.

God’s Word works differently in each preacher, which makes each year’s Preaching Rally unique. Although the content might look good in the planning phases, no amount of finagling can match what happens when God works through the actual live event of the preaching. The preacher’s walk with God, his time in the Word, and the Holy Spirit’s power all meet in one moment as the preacher preaches.


Choosing a Guest Preacher

The guest preacher you choose is vital to the success of the event. Here are my two basic criteria for choosing a preacher:


  • Is he biblical? Will the preacher preach FROM the Bible? Or will he preach the Bible? I have seen men read a text at the beginning of a service, highlight one phrase, and repeat that phrase throughout the sermon (preaching FROM the Bible), interspersing stories and inspirational preacher-talk. Using the Bible as a launchpad is not Bible preaching. I want a preacher that will tell us what GOD says, not what the preacher wants to get across. Our guest preachers must be people of the Word. They must handle the Word carefully, saying only what God meant to say in His Word.
  • Can he keep the teens awake? Sleeping teens don’t get much from a preacher, no matter how biblical he is. If he is so boring that everyone zones out, while he might be an incredible Christian, I will not choose him to be our guest preacher. For a unique day like a Preaching Rally, we get one shot per year to choose preachers who will deliver God’s Word in a special way. We try to make it count by choosing men who can do that as efficiently as possible.



Practical Notes

In no particular order, here are a few practical topics to think about when working with your guest preacher.

Travel arrangements. Work with the preacher to see how he would like to travel. If he is flying in, would he prefer to make the arrangements so he can get airline points? Or so he can choose the airport, airline, and flight times? Set your deadlines early so he knows how to plan his flights.

Accommodations. Make sure the preacher’s accommodations are prepared, whether that is a missions apartment, a hotel, or a church member’s home. Whatever the case, make sure his meals are planned and everything is ready for him in his room.

Preacher Welcome Packet. We prepare the preacher’s room with several items:

  • Welcome notes. I write a hand-written note to thank him for being with us.
  • Books. All the books from our church (see for more) are laid out on his table with a hand-written note explaining that he can feel free to take or leave any or all of the books. We understand that he might have some already, or he might not choose to carry them in his luggage.


  • Youth leader packet. The guest preacher receives exactly what each youth worker will receive the next day: a welcome note, a booklet explaining our upcoming camp, a Calvary Baptist Publications catalogue, extra student booklets, themed pens and bookmarks.
  • Preaching Rally Mailing #3 (Packet). In case the preacher did not receive his packet in the mail, a duplicate packet is placed in his room so he can refresh himself on what the guest churches are expecting the conference to be like (based on the wording they read in the same mailing). This mailing includes: a welcome note explaining the theme, 2 posters, announcement sheet copies and a sign-up sheet.
  • Love offering. Because many guest preachers are pastors, they need to return to their churches on Saturday night after the Preaching Rally concludes. This makes for a rushed exit, so we include the sealed love offering envelope in their welcome packet. If the preacher arranged his own travels, we include two separate checks for tax purposes: one for the love offering, and another for travel expense reimbursement.


Communicate often. At each phase in our planning, I try to update the preacher via email, letting him know that our church is praying and preparing for his arrival. When the Guidance Document is ready, it is emailed to the preacher to aid his study. When the decorations are hung, I send a picture to the preacher to show him what the sanctuary will look like. Communicate any changes, concerns, or contingencies.

Time allotments. How strict would you like the preacher to be on his time slots? Since our Preaching Rally is tight on time, and since the preacher usually has more than one session to communicate his thoughts, I usually ask that he sticks as close to the schedule as possible.

Invitation. Our guest preacher runs the invitation from start to close, and I follow up with a reflection time for the plan page. He is given liberty with questions he asks or how much time he chooses to use.

Ask for improvements. At the close of each Preaching Rally (and sometimes throughout the planning process), I ask the guest preacher to help future Preaching Rallies by being brutally honest about any improvements that could be made. This could be for anything, including communication, games, food, sessions, or anything else that he might notice.

Love offering. Our Preaching Rally budget allows for a basic love offering per my pastor’s approval. We include this in a sealed envelope marked “love offering” in the guest preacher’s room. Whether or not the preacher chooses to open it before he gets home is his choice. We put it in his room so that we do not forget to give it to him in all the commotion of cleaning up after the Preaching Rally and rushing to the airport.

Prayer time. Before the Preaching Rally, we meet with Pastor and a few other men to pray for the day. This concludes before any sound-checks or music practices happen. Plan and schedule it early so the preacher knows when to be ready.

Printed schedule. Lying on the front pew where the guest preacher is staged are three items: water bottles, his lapel mic, and a printed schedule. Our secretary highlighted all the preaching starting times in yellow, and the ending times in pink.

Water. Have cups of water or water bottles under the pulpit or at the preacher’s chair for each preaching session.

Microphone batteries. On my “Morning of” checklist for the preacher is something simple: check the preacher’s wireless lapel microphone batteries.