That’s actually a popular question at our church these days – haha!
You see, in the first 8 years or so, I preached almost every weekend at our church. That’s what you’re supposed to do, right? I had started a church. I was the Senior Pastor. Senior Pastors preach pretty much every weekend. Right?!?!
That’s definitely what I thought for awhile.
As our church grew, we began to add services. At one point, I was preaching 5 services every weekend. 2 on Saturday. 3 on Sunday. It was exhausting.
I called a friend of mine at a big church in Dallas who used to preach that many times each weekend & asked for advice. He said, “You gotta stop, bro. I used to do 5 services but it about killed me. I’ve dropped back to 4 now. 2 on Saturday & 2 on Sunday. You need to slow down.”
Needless to say, I needed to hear that.
We immediately made some changes & pulled the preaching back down.
As the years went by, I started to wonder if it was healthy for me & for the church to just have one primary teacher. I couldn’t really find anything in the Bible that said one guy should preach all the time. In fact, I found quite the opposite.
Acts 15:35 – Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch. They and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord there.
Whoa! It wasn’t just Paul preaching the word in Antioch. Barnabas also preached alongside Paul. But it wasn’t just Paul & Barnabas that preached in Antioch. Look at what the second part of that verse says. They [Paul & Barnabas] and MANY others preached.
It wasn’t just Paul & Barnabas and a FEW others that preached. It was Paul, Barnabas & MANY others. Guess what “many” means in the original language? MANY – haha! Like a lot of people! There were a lot of people preaching & teaching there. Not just one guy.
It doesn’t say people complained. It doesn’t say people demanded that Paul be the only speaker (which would make sense if they did because it’s Paul for crying out loud). It doesn’t say that everyone left when Paul stopped speaking.
Why is that?
I think it’s because people were more excited about the message than the messenger.
The messenger didn’t matter as much as the message. The message was what had power! The Word of God had power! People wanted to hear the Word of God, regardless of who was preaching/teaching it!
If I can be honest, and this is even true in my own life, it seems that in the American church we are often more excited about the messenger than the message. We often choose a church based on how talented the messenger is. We often change churches when the messenger isn’t as good as he used to be.
If you look at almost any research that has surveyed people who go to church, typically the #1 reason they chose that church is they liked the messenger. I’m not saying that’s all bad. I’m not saying you need to pick a church with a terrible preacher. I’m just pointing out that I think we’ve definitely made the “messenger” the main thing, rather than the message. And once again, that’s an American phenomena. That’s not the case everywhere else in the world.
In my humble opinion, this has contributed to a “celebrity preacher” culture in America. And, unfortunately, you’re seeing these “celebrity preachers” fall left & right, leaving many people disillusioned. A few weeks ago it was announced that a very famous preacher that I’ve looked up to for years fell into sin & had to step down. It just keeps happening. The power, fame, & influence that can come with these positions can be very dangerous. Is this what the Lord wanted for preachers?
I know some of you are thinking, “Well, you were one of those celebrity preachers.” I know. Exactly. That’s why we’ve made a change. That’s why you’re wondering where I am. I don’t want to be one of those.
The key to reaching a million in 10 years is hundreds & thousands of “preachers” preaching, not just a few “celebrity preachers.” We need all of the people of God to be “preachers” of the Word of God!
Acts 4:31 – After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.
They were ALL filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they ALL “preached the word of God with boldness.” That’s what we need! Everyone preaching! Not just a few celebrities.
Back to messenger vs. message.
You see, what has power is the Word of God — the message! What has the potential to change people’s lives is the Word of God!
The best thing the messenger/preacher can do is preach the Word of God & get out of the way. Let the Word do the work! It’s alive & powerful, sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword (Heb 4)!
The way you know you’re more excited about the MESSENGER than the message is when you’re upset if your favorite teacher isn’t teaching. Perhaps you choose not to attend that day. Or perhaps you choose to switch churches because he’s not preaching as much as he used to.
The way you know you’re more excited about the MESSAGE than the messenger is when you don’t care who’s teaching as long as the message is the same. You love & are excited about the message, namely, the Word of God! Just like the believers in Acts 15.
I was convicted that in the first 10, I was pretty much the only messenger. Yet, in Acts 15, Paul, Barnabas & MANY others taught & preached the Word of God.
To me, that started to seem more healthy for both me & our church for the long-term.
Some of you know that I preached so much in the first 10 that I started having vocal issues. I had to travel to Dallas for treatment & take a break for a season. Myself & others felt this was perhaps another way the Lord was leading me to slow down & share the responsibility with others. After all, that’s what had been modeled for me in Scripture.
Another thing I realized once I started having others help teach is that it freed me up more to pray, lead, read and cast vision for the future. I’m not sure if DMM would’ve even come into the picture if I hadn’t freed up the time to be able to think about it, read about it, and talk to others about it. I can’t imagine what dreams & visions God would give Senior Pastors if they shared the teaching responsibilities and spent more time in prayer & seeking God for his vision for their church.
For those of you that have never been an “every week preacher,” sermon preparation can consume most of your week. It’s hard to do much else. And when you’re not just the preacher, but one of the primary “leaders” of the church, you need plenty of time to LEAD as well!
So, to answer the question, “Where’s Chris?”
I’m where I’ve always been. I’m praying, leading, reading, casting vision to our team, meeting with mentors from all over the world and doing whatever it takes to see us aim toward 1,000,000 in the next 10 years!
To all of those that have emailed me or reached out to me saying they wished I still taught every weekend, I hear you. And I’m so honored by your messages. To think that God would use an introverted computer nerd like me to speak in a way that people enjoy is a total miracle.
Having said that, I really believe it wasn’t me, the messenger, that you enjoyed & found powerful. It was the message — the Word of God. I’d strongly encourage you to give all these other guys (and gals) a chance. They are filled with God’s Spirit too! They have a gift of teaching too! And most importantly, they are using the same “message” I was using — the Word of God!
Messengers will let you down. Messengers come & go.
Fall in love with the message.
Better yet, fall in love with the author of the message.
Don’t fall in love with the messenger!
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Part 9 – DMM Coaching