I love guest speakers. It’s a chance for me to rest and enjoy a faith-building message from another ministry, it’s a chance for our people to hear the gospel of the kingdom framed in a different way, it’s a chance for our people to hear a specialist with a specific message or gift, and finally, it’s a chance for people who have never heard of our church find us because of a guest speaker’s mailing list.
However, I have seen several churches ripped to pieces by guest speakers who have ulterior motives, generally a hobby-horse, or to build their mailing list, or just plain to get money and not care how ethically or righteously it comes. We have had a couple of near misses ourselves, and I have learned a few lessons about inviting speakers.
- DO invite people who you know and who you benefit from hearing. If they don’t feed you, they won’t feed your people. It’s that simple. All the speakers that come to Tree of Life Church are people who feed me.
- DO invite people who you trust and feel comfortable dealing with. If you don’t feel right corresponding with and inviting them, then it won’t feel right when they come. Some of the best guest speakers at Tree of Life now are dear friends of mine, and I love them and they love me, and it’s great – but of course that doesn’t happen overnight!
- DO openly ask if the speaker has a rider or any requests. That conversation should be started by the church – you as the pastor should take the initiative and have that conversation before the speaker arrives. It can be a little embarrassing but man up and do it!
- DO talk about financing the speaker beforehand – and DO pay your speaker well. If you don’t know how much to pay speakers, speak to other pastors of churches your size. I have always overpaid what I have heard the market rate is, because I don’t think you can put a price on a great speaker. Save up beforehand if you have to. The idea of letting someone speak and benefiting from that and not honouring them financially is utterly unbiblical and utterly unChristian. You should be giving an honorarium that fits the speaker and your church.
- DO honour your speaker when they are with you – give them enough time to minister, let them flow with their gift, and enjoy their company. Let them feel welcome.
- DO ensure if the minister has product they are given a place to sell it and that people are encouraged to purchase.
- DO use your speaker where he is at their best. Don’t ask an evangelist to speak on end-times, let them evangelise! Craft the experience around the dominant gift of the speaker.
- DON’T let your speaker advertise for sign ups to their mailing list from your people. They are not there to build their mailing list, they are there to feed your people. You are providing a good honorarium
- DON’T let your speaker take his own offering. That’s for you to do and your people to do.
- DON’T let your speaker prophecy judgement and doom and gloom over you and your people! Shut that down immediately.
- DON’T let your speaker advertise their events at other churches. Come on now! That’s just rude.
- DON’T let your speaker stumble around – let there be someone who lets him know when to arrive, where they are staying and so on and so forth. Use some empathy!
- DON’T ever forget to say thanks. Send a thank you card after they have come, and express your appreciation.