Recently, I had the opportunity to preach at a church in South Oak Cliff. City of Hope is a small congregation with a big heart making a difference in the neighborhood that Bishop Russell and his wife, Lady Althea, grew up calling home.
A welcome benefit of being an itinerant Gospel preacher is being able to craft one message for multiple audiences. For instance, I have recently spent a good deal of time studying the New Testament book of James, half brother of Jesus. This past week, I preached twice to two completely different audiences. Both times, my message came out of James 3 and focused on the impact of words and the power of our tongues. However, the key takeaways were different because my audiences needs and life seasons were different.
Even so, I rarely—-if ever—-preach the same message twice. The topic—or theme—and even the text—may be similar or even the same, but the sermons are different. This is true, in good part, to the audiences usually being different.
1. Know your Audience
No two audiences are alike. Each one is an amalgam of individuals carrying their own stories, cares, and burdens. If you can mingle with them beforehand, that can sometimes be helpful, particularly if it’s an audience unfamiliar to you. If they are overly familiar with you, then I would gently caution you against spending too much time chit-chatting with them beforehand. Unfortunately, sometimes people’s familiarity with you gives them a false sense of license they might not otherwise reveal. As an itinerant preacher most of your audiences will fall in the one and done variety.
2. Stay in Your Lane (or Don’t Start Fires You Won’t Be Around to Put Out)
Remember why you are there: to fill in or stand in the gap. You are a guest coming in for a short visit. Don’t start fires you won’t be around to tend to or put out. Stick to stirring soul fires rather than creating church fires. After all, you want to be invited back. Enuff said?
3. Find Your Groove
Being an itinerant preacher provides you with the opportunity to craft an arsenal of sermons rather than developing a weekly sermon series. As an itinerant preacher, topical sermons offer you the best avenue for distilling God’s truth. Exegetical, verse by verse, chapter by chapter sermons exploring an entire book, generally don’t serve you or your audience well. Unless, of course, you find yourself hanging around for an extended stay, like a Sunmer sabbatical.
I’ve found this philosophy holds true even for places where I preach at regularly, like Union Gospel Mission. Typically, pandemic aside, I preach at the men’s shelter monthly. This doesn’t lend itself to doing a traditional sermon series. It will be a month before I get back. I doubt they will remember where we left off.
I may decide on a theme for a particular season or even for the year. For example, I may preach on specific biblical characters, my favorite psalms, or the miracles of Jesus. Finding your groove means identifying your theme while keeping the main thing the main thing. Jesus is always the main thing.
4. Remember Who’s You Are and Who Sent You
As a preacher, you are there to share, explain and teach God’s word—-not to promote your agenda, book, or other platform.
Boldly declare the truth revealed in God’s word. Humbly remember that He is the one who equipped and sent you to represent Him.
I pray that if you are an itinerant preacher like me, that you find a word of encouragement and a nugget of wisdom in this post that may help you in the future. Remember: keep the main thing the main thing.
Remember: The main thing is always Jesus.
Reader, if you regularly read my posts then you know that I do some preaching from time to time. Maybe you’ve wondered what’s involved in all that. I pray this post sheds some knowledge and understanding on this particular and unique topic.
If you need someone to preach at your church or speak at your next event, please reach out. You can use the “Comments” section or fill out the contact form here.
Until next time…
God bless you and God bless America.
Have Bible, will travel.
The Devotional Guy™