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Leadership Journal

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The People-Powered Pulpit

The People-Powered Pulpit

How collaboration revolutionized my preaching.

"It's Friday, but Sunday's coming!" Tony Campolo's iconic line brings hope to many people, but anxiety to preachers. You have 48 hours until you're expected to say something life changing—again—and the seed thoughts you had on Monday morning still haven't sprouted into a sermon. You are afraid that it's going to be another week of having to say something instead of having something to say.

You want to preach messages that transform lives. You want to shepherd the flock under your care. And you want to maintain healthy boundaries. But, "It's Friday, and Sunday's coming!" You feel forced to choose between personal vitality, pastoral duties, and life-changing preaching. But what if that could change?

"It's Friday, and Sunday's coming!" And there is hope because any minute they will walk through your door—a team of collaborators. No, they aren't paid staff. They are volunteers who love God's Word, love the local church, love creativity, and love you—the pastor-teacher. They are people filled with the Spirit of God who long to hear life-transforming preaching on Sunday. And they'll do almost anything—including meeting regularly with the pastor—to contribute to better preaching.

Hearing God's voice

If you want to hear God's voice more clearly on Sunday, then invite more voices into your study on Friday. It's not the day of the week that's important. Friday just happens to be the day that our team meets. I've served at the same church for ten years—the first half as associate pastor, and the second half as senior pastor. One of the biggest joys of ministry during the past decade has been our collaborative teaching team.

It started when our former senior pastor gave me a copy of Dave Ferguson's book The Big Idea: Focus the Message—Multiply the Impact. One of the concepts in the book was the idea of preparing to preach as a team. So we gave it a shot. We learned by trial and error.

Our current team consists of five important voices. Brad is a full-time Christian counselor who loves to craft moving stories. Barb has influenced multiple generations of Christians as an energetic and creative leader with a love of words. Melissa has extensive experience as an editor and grew up in a pastor's home. Kevin is a seminary student with a passion for exegesis and a calling to pastoral ministry. None of them are paid for showing up on Friday morning. Their reward is witnessing the impact of improved preaching. And they have told me this is among the most rewarding and sustainable ministries they have ever participated in.

More voices at the table means more perspectives considered, more blind-spots removed, more experiences mined, more motives revealed, more commentaries read, more problems considered, more solutions explored, more learning styles considered, and more fun in the sermon crafting ...

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