One of best feelings in the world is when your boss hands you an assignment because he trusts you. In my case, this trust is expressed when I am asked to preach when my Pastor is out of town. I have always regarded preaching in place of my pastors as sacred ground but I’ve made my share of mistakes that you can avoid.
If you’re asked to take the pulpit here are three urges you’ll want to resist:
1. Lift Yourself Up
Many youth pastors are relegated to a broom closet, to budget, and a magnet for side-ways glances. It’s easy to get into the pulpit and take advantage of the spot light. It’s our moment to lift ourselves up and get all that credit to we’ve been missing out on. Our actions could also be misinterpreted by the congregation as trying to outshine the Pastor . Before you take the the pulpit, take a knee and thank God for the opportunity.
2. Use Sarcasm
I know, we’re used to talking to youth and sarcasm, which should also be tempered with them as well, can slip out unintentionally. When we have the chance to speak to the congregation we shouldn’t waste the time we have to share God’s word with snarky comments. It’s better to look smart than clever.
3. Don’t Preach Angry
Some youth pastors would use this opportunity to “go after” the congregation or as some say “beat the sheep”. It was not my place to take the congregation to task. It’s not my congregation. It is my Shepherd’s Flock meaning my lead pastor and, even more important, Jesus. To not come across angry take a deep breath and
- If you have any bitterness, let it go.
- Forgive those in the congregation who’ve hurt you (you’ll be staring at them and them at you).
- See the big picture and not just your moment (build up a congregation that will eventually bless you and your youth ministry)
How I preach will determine if I am a hireling who does not know how take take care of the flock while the lead shepherd is gone or that I am a faithful shepherd myself who has a shepherd’s heart.
In other words, don’t use this time to stick it to anyone bu the devil.
A few things you SHOULD do
Tell the congregation you are thankful for the opportunity (and your pastor if he or she is present) .
Go shorter or the same time as your pastor (not longer, it looks like you don’t want this to end).
Let your students know and tell them you’d like them to be your amen corner.
Hangout after the service to let people encourage you.
Use enough technology (video clips, etc.) but not too much.
What was your first experience filling the pulpit like?
What mistakes do you think you made?
What advice would you give to a first timer?
If you’d like, you can listen to the message I preached for my pastor recently below.