Preaching 50% of the time – and Fall Schedule of Speaking Places

July 30, 2009 — 17 Comments

Preaching I do teach at least 50% of the Sundays at Vintage Faith Church, but we intentionally do not have one solo teacher but a team.

I'd be curious to hear from others what % of the year do you or your primary preacher/teacher teach on Sundays and is there reasons behind that?

During all the youth ministry years, as well as during Graceland and the young adult ministry years at my former church - I taught 95% of the time on Sundays. I would rarely miss a Sunday except for vacations for the most part. Even at 50% now, I still am the one who teaches most in our church over the course of a year. I am heading into a 6 out of 7 weeks straight teaching on Sundays starting next Sunday. But we intentionally now have a team teaching approach.

The reason is that I have a certain temperament and style of preaching. I also believe that I have topics and areas of teaching that I teach better than other areas. I find myself getting more energy teaching about apologetics, or theological topics, or tough issues about the faith or about mission. I love teaching books of the Bible like we are for the whole month of August (We are teaching through Philemon). But I believe there are others gifted to teach on biblical topics like parenting, marriage, conflict and counseling types of teaching, spiritual formation issues etc. that do so in my opinion better than I can. I know it is the Spirit who changes people with what we teach, and it is the Scriptures and truth from Scripture we are bringing out – but at the same time, there are different people who have deeper insight than others on certain areas. I have taught on all those things in the past and still do when needed, but now try to focus on what I believe is my best contribution for teaching and have others who bring their best as well.

Like with doctors, we have specialists in certain areas. Or in schools and colleges there are teachers with specialties in studies so their teaching is all the more depthful. So in the church, I think taking advantage of how different people that is a good thing. I think it benefits the church rather than have one person try to be expert in all areas.

It also allows those with teaching gifts for a larger group in a worship gathering format to also use their gifts. It also shapes our church culture not on one personality from upfront. We still have one person teach at least 50% brings enough stability yet having the other 50% done by others brings a well roundedness of strength, wisdom, personality, stories etc. Because we also see "pastoring" as mainly what happens not in the large meeting but in smaller settings where people know one another and are "pastored" in the context of ongoing relationships with those whom have pastoring gifts.

So, when someone visits Vintage Faith Church it is a 50-50 chance I will be teaching on a Sunday.

I sometimes find it fascinating that if a church has one primary teacher, they kind of have to be super-heroes almost in being passionate experts in apologetics, every book of the Bible, marriages and parenting, relationships etc. I do know some are very gifted to be speaking on almost anything. Andy Stanley seems to be like that. I probably listen to his sermons more than anyone else's – but I am amazed as his diversity. But I am guessing he is more rare, and I know for me, there are things I find myself more passionate and I think communicate better about than other things.

This approach of team teaching also gives me the opportunity to speak other places. I am usually home by Sundays – but I then can travel to conferences to speak. It is energizing to me being in other parts of the country. Meeting other leaders and hearing about what others churches are doing. My favorite part of conferences is what happens in the hallways, during lunches, after a session is over and you are hanging out with people talking. I get so many ideas for our church from what God is doing in other churches too.

Arrow left I just posted on the left of this blog the schedule of when I am speaking at various places. I was going to start walking through each one and highlight it, but I did link to their web sites so you can see what I am doing at each one, who the other speakers are etc. I am always open to meeting with people if we get it down in advance as my schedule fills up so fast while there. So always feel free to email me about meeting up.

With the Origins Project, we are scheduling in a Fall and Spring "Listening Tour" which I will post about. But those on the Origins leadership team will be tagging on to the places we speak lunches or dinners to meet those interested in helping shape Origins and our direction and get input from you. Also to ask questions. So we will be posting that schedule soon and with every date here I am posting where I will be, we will have an Origins meeting in that city while there. So that will happen.

Anyway, I get asked where I am going to be at and I just posted the Fall schedule – so there it is and hope to meet those nearby those cities or if you are coming to the event. And I will post the Origins schedule of meetings as soon as we nail them down.

With this topic, I would be interested from those who are in the teaching role, what % you teach during the year? And anything you can share to why you do teach the % of weeks of the year as you do.

Dan Kimball

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author of "Adventures in Churchland: Finding Jesus In The Mess of Organized Religion" and "They Like Jesus But Not The Church" . On staff at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, CA.
  • Josh Mann

    I was recently added and am now the junior member on our church’s preaching team. We’ve utilized this model for almost two decades now and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our lead guy does almost 50%. It has been effective and strategic on many levels. Most recently, our lead pastor (your fellow cohort buddy, Stumbo), was struck by a mystery illness and it really was the preaching team and the seasoned/deep bench that it has brought with it, that allowed our church to continue on without skipping a beat. In fact, these days there is a representative from the five decades spanning 20′s-60′s.
    Any others?

  • Chris Meirose

    This weekend will be my 3rd in a row off. Before that, I preached something like 85 of 88 Sundays, plus some extra for Christmas and Lent. I needed a break. These 3 weeks off were supposed to be to take care of my wife and our newborn child, but the due date of July 19th came and went, and we are still awaiting the arrival of our child. So next week might be chaos since I’ll be preaching and doing a wedding and likely becoming a new father! Solo pastor in a small town church, you do what you have to sometimes!

  • DanKimball

    I remember talking to John about this very thing! Before he got ill. And we talked how it may even slow church growth for those who look for “the pastor” type of a church with a single pastor doing the teaching. But I remember the discussion we had and him explaining the approach at your church. Please say hi to John. I respect him tremendously.

  • DanKimball

    Hi Chris!
    Thanks for commenting. I have a question!
    You mentioned you are in a small church. I’ve wondered sometimes when thinking about this if it would be easier to find volunteers in the church to then be on a teaching team. They need to be able to teach of course. But the reason I say that, is in a larger church with communicating dynamics to a larger group there is certain communication skills needed for that setting that in a smaller setting not as needed for the teaching. So in a smaller church could you then have an easier time than in a larger church to develop a team to help? Hope that makes sense. Any thoughts?

  • Adam Sheaffer

    Our church is a new church plant, less than one year old, and it has been my goal from day one to teach 3 out of 4 weeks as a general rule of thumb. There just aren’t that many mature believers in our church yet since many people attending are unchurched, new to Christianity, exploring, etc. We literally don’t have another person who is gifted to preach in our church yet, but I do have a good friend from a previous church who is willing and able to preach any given Sunday. He is still a member at this other church but is committed to helping us any way he can.
    I think there are two positive aspects to this: first, our people need to hear a voice/perspective besides just mine on what the Bible says about Jesus. My friend is a terrific teacher and does a great job. Second, this keeps me fresh and gives me time to work/study ahead – this is huge for me because I am bivocational for now and have very limited time. It doesn’t always work out for him to preach once a month, but my goal is to find regular times for him to do it.

  • Steve Williams

    This is not an answer to what you were asking but more of an affirmation of how it is working out @ VFC.
    It is, as you say, good to hear from the many people we have who have a great ability in certain special areas. There are some areas you can cover like no one else and the same for Joe, Josh, Kristin and others such we have had in that role such as Shelly and Lee. And we get to be blessed with a guest every so often as well. Just like with the music part (and so many others) there are lots of people willing to step up and try and use their gifts for the body. Perhaps the next step is sharing our abundance with others in these areas. I know some of our music people like Dave and Josh help other church worship bands and camps etc. and you do outside stuff as well.
    It is a really good sign of health when key people can be gone from an area and the body does not suffer for it.
    This is all good.

  • DanKimball

    Thanks for sharing and the encouragement. It is an Ephesians 4:11-12 culture where we hope VFC is developing shared ministries and staff focuses on trying to empower people to lead areas of ministry and sharing it on mission together.
    Just tonight I was emailing with someone who is gifted in leadership and taking on the development of our local justice and compassion ministries. He and the team he is developing will be making decisions, our role is to support and encourage and advise as it develops. That is the exciting part of things.
    I remember the time with your Community Group and Kristin sharing how you really are the shepherds/pastors of that group!
    OK. bye again!

  • donsands

    It all depends, as you say, “They need to be able to teach of course.”
    If you gifted teachers, then surely the Lord has sent that they use their gift for the edification of His children.
    There are teachers of the Scriptures, who have learned the original languages quite well, and so, if they are genuine worshippers of the Ftaher, will be a great benefit to the body.
    I have had some excellent teachers in my life, and still do. They are very thorough, and they have a fear/love relationship with our Savior, and so take teaching His truth very seriously.
    There are also those who are not as learned in the Greek and Hebrew, and yet are fine teachers, who are more exhorters than teachers really.
    The Body needs a variety of teachers as you say Dan.
    Sounds as though the Lord has blessed your church with an abundance of teachers. That can be very healthy.
    The Lord also gives us fair warning when it comes to teaching His truth: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

  • Brad Shantz

    Our church is small, Dan. 80+ people. (Actually 80 to 100, then parking gets to be an issue, and it drops to 80 again….known issue.)
    We can’t afford to pay for multiple preaching staff. Even if we did it on a volunteer basis, we don’t have enough trained/gifted teachers in our congregation to cover a broad variety of topics. Don’t get me wrong, there are some excellent teachers in the crowd.
    I love the concept of a team, but there has to be a tipping point on church size and congregational aptitude before it becomes plausible.

  • Rick Diamond

    I preach and teach about 70% of the Sundays in our faith community; the other 30% are taught by our other pastor. We find this is about right for us. It’s a good balance – I’m not the focus, but simply the Most Often Talking Guy. Our purpose for Sunday gatherings is to be encouraged to go out and follow Jesus. It’s less important to us who teaches, than it is that our worship gatherings are organic and experiential and interactive. Many Sundays, the “sermon” isn’t even the focal point. It seems to work.

  • Michelle Burrill

    I am amazed when I look at the picture at the top of this post at how much it looks just like you, and the people standing around look just like the rest of us and how we dress at Vintage every week. You have captured the essence of the church perfectly in that picture. Anyone who has never been to Vintage only needs to look at that picture to understand what to expect. Love it!

  • Anna

    I am part of Vintage Faith Church and love that there is different speakers on Sundays. I do like it when Dan teaches the most. But I love when Joe and the others teach as well. I came from a chuch where it was one preacher and looking back I see it was not really smart to have only one speaker and from reading this post, I can see the danger in that.
    I love Vintage and so glad we are doing what we are doing!

  • Jeffrey

    This makes sense. As long as the Word is preached whether one person or five people – God’s Word will not come back void.
    I haven’t thought about more than one main preacher for a church. I wonder why more churches don’t have multiple preachers if they can accurately exposite the Word.

  • Tim

    To me a more important question than what percentage of the time one is teaching but to what extent is your teaching being reproductive to raise up others to teach. Luke 6:40 tells us the purpose of teaching is to “fully train” others to “be like us”. That means others can do what we do. Paul taught Timothy that to be “strong in the grace of Christ” he needed to “entrust” everything to “faithful men who would teach others also.” These principles demand that at some point my teaching will decrease and others will increase. If perpetual dependency is occurring, teaching / learning is not happening.
    To me one of the bogus assumptions about tradition driven church is that only those gifted as teachers should teach. Gifting is not the boundary of your activity. Those with the gift of mercy are not supposed to only do mercy stuff. Their greatest job maybe teaching – teaching others to increase in mercy. The same with giving, serving, etc. The system acts like these other gifts are mouth-less and brainless to articulate anything about faith to the rest of the saints. It’s long overdue for the gift of teaching to get off it’s pedestal and acknowledge God’s design of body participation and partnership in delivering the whole gospel. When a body of believers is led to where they have no expectation that God will reveal himself through each parts being a participant in each body gathering, then they are to a certain extent a body self-neutered. It’s hard to give up excuses for maintaining comfortable traditions that are bogus “alternative lifestyles”.

  • Brandon Ellis

    Our church is just beginning to move toward the team approach to teaching on Sundays. Right now we have one primary pastor/speaker with some substitutes when he is out of town. Personally, for an initial goal, I am hoping we can move toward the primary pastor/speaker 70% of the time and two regular substitutes plus guest speakers for the other 30% – for all of the positive reasons that have been discussed below.
    With some coaching from the pastor, I had the opportunity to do my first Sunday AM message this past week, and things went very well for a rookie. I received a lot of positive feedback from people in our church, especially from elders and other leaders who have been teaching for much longer than I have. The bulk of my prior teaching experience has been with the youth, and it was exciting to have a lot of them there on Sunday AM to worship with the whole congregation, especially since many of them are not normally there on Sunday AM.

  • geoffrey holsclaw

    at our church we also have one who preaches 50% of time. Another 25% is by another pastor, and then last 25% is supplied by lay leaders and/or church planters in preparation.
    We do it for roughly the reasons that you mentioned: each speaker has different talents and passions, and to keep away from being persona driven.
    Also, in the summers we hold what we call a “College of Preachers” where 3-4 pastors in training (at various points in their training) get together weekly with the pastors to discuss preaching and preparing, and then they get to preach through the summer months.

  • Matt Orr

    Do you realize that’s a picture of Joseph Smith preaching?