What I've Learned Preaching on the Road

I just counted. I've preached at 20 churches so far this year since becoming a church planter in mid-January. It's been a fascinating experience visiting churches and seeing what God is doing in Toronto and beyond. If there's one lesson that I've learned, it's this:

The senior pastor sets the pace.

This surprised me. Keep in mind that I'm still (barely) part of the generation that tends to downplay the role of the senior leader. I remember sitting in a meeting with Ed Stetzer in which he challenged us to get over our allergic reaction to the central role of leadership. Leaders, he said, still matter.

The churches that have received us with warmth and excitement have been the churches in which the senior pastor has welcomed us with warmth and excitement. If he gets excited about what we're doing, the people do as well. If he's not excited, the people aren't either.

It's the single biggest factor I've noticed this year that influences the response we've received, and it's huge.

Two lessons:

If you're the senior pastor, never forget that you set the pace more than you realize.

Second, work hard not to invite someone in to speak to your people if you're not excited about what they're doing. I've done this in the past, but I think I've learned my lesson now.

Bonus lesson for people like me who are guest speakers: Look for pastors who share the same passion. It makes a world of difference.