A while back I wrote an article on associate ministry and how we must support the worship service. You can find that link here. After reading some of the results from our 2010 survey, I found two things. First, many readers of SoulPreaching.Com are in an associate or assistant minister slot. Some are paid and many are unpaid. The majority are considered clergy by their denomination while others are considered lay people. In any case, these people have felt the call to ministry that often includes the call to preach. However, in many churches there is simply not enough opportunities to preach for all of the unpaid associates and assistants. Some senior pastors work to make opportunities for these assistants, while other senior pastors simply ignore the issue. I also found that many people wanted more help for those in associate ministry. I pray this article will help in that regard.
Lack Of Preaching Can Cause Frustration
The problem is that people who feel a call to preach and are not given the opportunity to preach often cause problems for the congregation. They sometimes start to fight with other leaders desiring their preaching opportunities. Sometimes they turn every time they are in the pulpit into a preaching moment. So they are reading the scripture, they turn that into a sermon. They announce they hymn, and that is a sermon. Yes, one who feels the call to preach and never gets an outlet for that call will feel frustrated and often will take it out on the congregation, pastor, and the other church leaders.
Supporting Role In Church…Lead Role Outside
I was talking the other day to an associate about this very problem. This associate noted that those of us who are in associate ministry must first and foremost recognize that our role is one of support. Support the senior pastor. Support the worship service. Support the congregation. Our role in church is to “plug the gaps.” You may not preach but once or twice a year in the church, but you must in your role at church “support.”
But in order to be successful in that support role, you must be allow the Holy Spirit to help you find your ministry that you can lead. This ministry will more than likely be outside of the walls of the church, but does not have to be. Successful associates have found that Nursing Home ministry can be a valid and powerful outlet for their ministry. There are many of our seniors who have no one to visit them and have no way of getting to church. Perhaps you can bring church to them.
Another important ministry is the Jail or prison ministry. There are tons of inmates who have come to the Lord as a result of someone bringing the church to them. As an associate whether paid or unpaid, in many cases, you are an ordained minister. That standing opens doors of service. People need to heard the word of truth even outside of the walls of the church.
Have you thought about working at a downtown mission? Many missions have worship services that need preachers. Those who find themselves in such situations really need to hear the word presented. I can remember that when I preached consistently in a downtown mission it totally transformed my preaching in very positive ways.
How about publishing ministry? Do you have a book in you? Can you help the people of God by preaching the word in book form? If God has called you to spread the word, maybe you can spread it through the “printed page.” Remember that books can go where you could not go otherwise.
I would be remiss if I didn’t briefly add the internet ministry. There are tons of ministers who use the internet to spread a word of Hope. I get emails from people who send a thought through email. I am Facebook friends with people who use their status updates to talk about God’s love. Twitter, blogs, etc. They all are opportunities for those who have been called.
I actually have a minister friend who started a radio program in his local area. He found sponsors and now he “preaches” over the airwaves every week. He did not wait for permission or an assignment, but simply went forth and God blessed.
By no means are these the only ministry opportunities. What you will find, however, is that when you are successfully doing God’s work outside the church, more opportunities for service inside the church will materialize. Dear associate, go do the work that God has called you to do and watch God open more doors.
Be A Light Where You Are
Finally, wherever you are be a light. You are at work and someone needs hope. Someone needs the light of truth. Someone needs to know someone cares. You are speaking to relatives, allow God to speak through your words of comfort and hope and power. Let people know you are a minister by your reliance on God and the truth.
If you have been called to preach, preaching once or twice a year in a church does not fulfill your obligation. Don’t allow bitterness to overtake you. Whether your senior pastor opens the door or not, please find an outlet for your ministerial work. God will bless it, and the whole world will be edified.
19 thoughts on “Finding An Outlet For Your Preaching Ministry”
I have truly been blessed by this ministry and have put your ministry on my Christmas list to donate to the ministry. May God continue to bless you.
Any Associate Minister that has the desire to become a pastor a church one day, needs to understand that in order to be a good leader you should first become a good follower.
Wow! I am so glad you posted this article. I run into so many frustrated individuals who God has given something to do but they believe they cannot go beyond the four walls. As followers of Christ we are all ministers from the time we wake up until we go to sleep and whatever we find to do in between time is our full-time ministry b/c there is always an opportunity to share God’s word and glorify God in everything we do. Thanks!
I support associate ministry. I spent more years as an associate than I have as senior pastor. I have two female associates, and they rotate one preaching Sunday per month, and I receive an offering for their labor. I they also have a teaching ministry in the church and once a month I rotate one of my bible studies that each one gets a chance to teach my bible studie. It’s already been recommended, nursing homes, prisons and jails which I do them all; the internet youtube, facebook etc. Another thing an associate minister can do is start a house church…. it’s very simple as having devotion and a bible study or sermon for an hour in your house with just a few people. Large churches began in the house, and when the church first began, services were held in houses. There are literally tons of preaching opportunities to preach; while I matriculated through the Interdenominational Theological Center, I would visit Five Points in Atlanta and would always run into people in the open air environment with a bible in hand preaching the gospel. I have known one man who plugs in his speakers at a corner carlot and with an aid of an extention cord and a mike, he has developed a strong preaching ministry on the street corner….. He has developed a following, if he ever decided to start a church, he has amassed quite a few that would give him a helpful start. If a man or woman really has “preaching” in them, they can find legitimate ways to preach, without becoming an aggravation to their pastor and church, by inappropriately turning non preaching moments into an opportunity to grand stand.
Pastor Wendell Leon Jackson, M.Div.
I love the way you summarized the whole post in such a few eloquent words. I also thank you for furthering the conversation…Yes …house churches…Bible studies….street preaching…Truly the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. Matthew 9:37.
These were all good suggestions for preaching opportunities. In our nursing home ministry we also incorporate some biblical storytelling, which is of aid to the preacher since storytelling is part of preaching.
We have many associate ministers at my church, and there are at least three times per year that our pastor brings us up during an evening services to preach, plus opportunities thoughout the year if we have proven ourselves to be ready (through prayer, study, attendance, servitude, and attitude).
What is important is the reason that associates are perturbed about the lack of preaching opportunities: is it for show or for God’s glory?
My pastor and a few mentors have instilled in me that it’s not always about being in front of the congregation; ministry can take place under a tree. Further, my pastor has advised our associate ministers to practice preaching in the shower, to the squirrels, to ourselves. Set a few dolls and stuffed animals on the couch and preach to them!
I am blessed that I have space in my house to set up a quasi-pulpit: I use a laptop stand to hold my Bible and I practice preaching to the six place settings of my dining room table. It is a great place for me to incorporate the lessons from Supercharge Your Sermons 2.0, and I also practice my storytelling and biblical teaching there.
Some associates may wonder why they are not allowed to preach as often as others. To these peers I would suggest that they listen to recordings of their sermons and ascertain if they are actually preaching the Holy Word or if they are rambling on about nothing that has anything to do with their text? Do you seek to improve or are you one who feels that Holy Ghost will tell you what to say once you step into the pulpit? And even if you are a stellar preacher, how is your behavior otherwise? Are you praying, studying, serving, and waiting with a positive attitude? What is your character?
Okay, I’ll get off of that soap box, but in closing would ask for my peers to strive for excellency in our calling.
And all the people said…Amen…
Minister Miller, Thank you for your words. I would say clearly that some of the people making the most noise about not being allowed to preach are also the very people who are obviously not ready for the opportunity when it finally comes. This is not always the case, but it is true more times than it is untrue…
Thanks for your observations…
Many times when a person feels that he/she is called into the ministry, the first thing is pulpit ministry. The first thing that an associate has to remember is that everyone is NOT called to pastor a church. Many see it as a “prestigious” position. In actuality once you become a minister and especially a pastor, your position should be lowered to that of a servant. What does servant do? He/She serves the people. My Senior pastor asked me for a span of two years to become a Co-Pastor to him before I actually accepted his request.
I saw the issues and the pain that he went through. It is not what most ministers see up front, once you get behind the scenes. Every day and place is or can be an opportunity for ministry. One needs to realize the number of people that will never set foot in a church if someone does not meet them somewhere outside the church.
The sky is the limit for ministry if we just would seieze the moment!!!!
I thank you for this. It is true that many want to be ministers to extract praise out of the congregation rather than actually being a minister. I remember when I began working in a downtown mission, the Senior Pastor of the church I was serving as an associate in scheduled all of the “preaching associates” a time in that mission.
Few actually took the opportunity and some of those who didn’t complained about their lack of preaching opportunities. If you were called to preach…preach….If you were called to be a minister…go head on and minister…there are hundreds of opportunities…But if you will not take any of these opportunities…then we must question either your knowledge…desire…or calling…
Each one of us has a role to play in any organization as in the church. Our job duties are defined, and functions properly delineated. However, there are times that a preaching slot is open to associate pastor to preach. This is the opportunity for him/her to rise on that occasion to know whether or not he/she is cut out to preaching. If they are really called to preach, the Holy Spirit will give these “next in line” pastors the necessary help.
I appreciate the wisdom from your article and the comments were like going to a support group for the AMS( Associate Ministers Society.) I am blessed to have a Professional degree in Health care and I love facilitating grief sessions so each time I teach, I realize that this is my ministry. I was recently asked to do a Spoken Word at a Gospel play intermission so this was a first time event that I enjoyed. You might look for these kinds of opportunities
Great article and great replies. Although I have a desire to preach more, I was taught not to go looking for preaching opportunties, they will come to me. I have other ministeral duties in the church which consist mostly of teaching. My Pastor does share the pulpit with us and we may get to preach 2 times a year. We also have the opportunity to teach bible study 2 to 3 times per year. I thought I would be going against protocol if I sought opportunities to preach, so I have never contacted homeless ministries or nursing homes offering my services. I do understand my role as an Associate Minister and I do whatever that needs to be done in order to support my pastor. So are you saying that we should go looking for opportunities to preach?
Thank you for your comment. I do not know of your local situation so I must speak in terms of generalities. In general, an ordained minister is authorized by her or his church to not only find speaking engagements but even to start a church….
Sometimes speaking engagements find you…sometimes you find them…
I do think it is proper protocol to let your senior pastor know what you are doing. Let your senior pastor know that you are seeking opportunities to preach…If you ever get any, it would be right to get let the pastor know that as well…
Again, I don’t know your local situation, but in general I think it is proper and right for an ordained minister to seek for opportunities to preach…
My, fellow brother and laborer in Christ,
Once again you’ve given some positive insights to what ministry is all about. I truly believe many ministers only perceive ministering take place only in the physical local church and forget that the earth is God’s scantuary and where God is His glory is. The church is in our heart, therefore, where ever we maybe is opportunity to be a witness for the living God that brings glory and honor to Him!!!
Point in case and not boasting, but, I, workout four to five days a week at 24HourFitness where I live. God has used me to minister to people in the gym. People have started calling me the Pastor of 24HourFitness. I didn’t give myself that position but because I was obedient to Him and what He has called me to do, He, opened doors for me to minister right there in the gym that brings glory and honor to Him. We must never forget ministering is about what God does in and through our obedience that honors and glorifies Him. Just like we need Jesus with every breath we take so does our brothers and sisters and our desire should align with God’s that none should perish but all come to know Him through Jesus Christ our risen Lord and Savior.
I believe that associate Pastors are called to perform a definite task for the church. I am one of three associate pastors to our Senior Pastor. We have our assigned tasks in support of the overall goal of the Church. I for one is Pastor for Administration supervising the administrative functions of the church, as I also minister to a definite sector of Church members and worshiper, and assigned preaching schedules. I agree that associate pastors must also do special ministry works outside of his church assigned tasks according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Far to many preachers want to preach in a nice church setting,but no one wants to go to the lonely and broken.So often with GOD we forget that GOD wants us to be a light and bring forward his holy word,where ever we happen to be.JESUS never ever left his ministry behind when he traveled.Where ever we are that is where our ministry is or are.People rather see a christian sermon,than hear a so-called christian sermon.So in closing preach where ever you find yourselves.
When God calls His servants to preach and proclaim His good news, its never just about that servant alone. That is why we must avoid becoming bitter when immediate opportunities are slow at coming. Use the time to greatly prepare yourself for what God is about to do in your life. God’s call of clergy is always about His purpose and plan for one’s life. Being ordained opens many doors for opportunities to serve the Lord. I agree with the Author, that those called to preach must be first willing to fill in some of the gaps that need filling. Whatsoever small things we are faithful at doing, God will recognize, and make us rulers of greater responsibilities. That way, we will be convince that it’s all just not for show, since God already knows! Make your service available to the great harvest of souls, and God will allow you to land where you need to be. Always honor and support your Pastor’s…
Thank you for your good word on preaching and frustration. It is a calling but waiting for God to open the door and or looking for the wrong door can be frustrating.
Thank you so much for this article. It really confirms that path I have taken. I’m the only associate at my church. I actually preach 8 or more scheduled times a year, plus whatever else is added in. With support from my Pastor, I developed other opportunities for preaching, such as the nursing home ministry. I now preach at the Nursing Home monthly, in addition to the scheduled preaching dates at church. Now, I’ve developed a blog and a ministry Facebook page. Your article was just a wonderful confirmation of the path God is taking me down. And that was exactly what I was asking God for this morning. Blessings!