When I attended college, I was surprised to meet young preachers who had never preached. They had felt God’s call to preach. They had surrendered their lives to the ministry. They were being educated to follow that call. Yet they had never had the opportunity to preach. Others I met had only had the chance to preach once or twice.
Part of the blame goes to their home pastors. Pastor, if you have a young man who surrenders his life to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ - give him the opportunity to preach. Let him bring a devotional in a Sunday School Class or department. Have him preach on Wednesday night or Sunday night. Help him in preparing a sermon or two. It is inexcusable for a pastor to have young preachers in his church and never give them the opportunity to preach.
Now to the young man who has surrendered to preach. What do you do now? Let me mention some basics, then I’ll specifically mention how to get opportunities to preach.
First, be the best member your pastor has. Be in church every week Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night. How can you claim to want to be a preacher and not even attend the regular services of your own church? Are you only going to regularly attend church when they pay you to do so?
A young man showed up at my church one Sunday night and sat on the front row. That will impress any pastor. Later he told me he was a preacher and wanted me to be his mentor. That’ll also impress a pastor. He let me know he was ready to preach for me anytime. But he attended sporadically and never showed up on Sunday mornings. I found out the reason; he just couldn’t wake up early enough to make it to Sunday morning Worship, much less Sunday School. I spoke to him of the importance of a preacher being faithful to all church services. He never attended on Sunday morning, I never asked him to preach, and he soon disappeared.
Second, study God’s Word and study good preachers. Learn how to put a sermon together. I’ll get in trouble for this, but steal a good sermon from a good preacher (but don’t try to publish that sermon in your name!). Herschel Ford used to say in his sermon books that his sermons were now yours and to feel free to preach them. Soon you will be putting together your own sermons. But feel free to start out heavily using the sermons of others.
R. G. Lee (pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis and SBC president) told of a country preacher he met. The preacher thanked Lee for his ministry and said, “I take your sermons and improve on them.” Take some good sermons and “improve” on them.
Good examples to follow: Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, Paige Patterson, David Jeremiah… The list goes on, but get their books and DVDs of their sermons. Don’t mimic them; preach in your own style. But learn from them.
Also, find an older pastor that you respect, and get to know him well. Ask questions. Go to him often for advice.
Prepare two or three good sermons and be ready to preach at any time. Keep your notes in your Bible. You never know when you may get an unexpected opportunity to preach.
When I was a teenager, my family drove across Houston to hear Evangelist Dan Vestal in Revival. We arrived a little late, walked in during the song service, and sat toward the back. Vestal was sitting on the platform. He saw us and walked back. I thought it was a little unusual, but figured he wanted to greet dad; they were great friends. He leaned over them and spoke to me. “David, I have a sore throat and I need you to preach for me tonight.” I was terrified. I had a grand total of about three or four sermons under my belt. I had no sermon notes with me. He refused to take no for an answer. I had a couple more songs to prepare my sermon. I got up and preached. God blessed, I think in spite of me, and several folks were saved. Always be ready!
Subscribe to a good paper or two that deals with Baptist life, theology and preaching. Subscribe to your state Southern Baptist paper. Mine is the Southern Baptist Texan and I highly recommend it. It will keep you up on Baptists, ministry, preachers and preaching. You may benefit from subscribing to your own state paper, and another good state Baptist paper. Subscribe to the Biblical Evangelist. It is filled with sermons, Bible studies, and illustrations. Both of these papers are listed in the right hand margin of Gulf Coast Pastor. Click the link, then click Subscribe at their site, and send them your mailing address. Also see links at GCP for Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, David Jeremiah and others.
Go to neighboring churches (when your church is not having their regular services) and hear other preachers. Attend conventions and revivals. You will both learn from them and get to know other preachers.
Next: Young Preachers - Finding a Place to Preach; Part 2
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-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, March 21, AD 2011.
Young Preachers - Finding a Place to Preach; Part 2 of 2