I love to preach, however a few years ago God told me to stop preaching and instead, to let ordinary believers show and tell what God has done! So I stopped, yet still I greatly miss it.
By the time I was in my mid-thirties, I had preached more than 1,400 sermons. Then I became a full-time motivational speaker for 12 years, speaking to associations and corporations around the country and still preaching some on the side. I love speaking to people and many people have told me that I am very good at it.
Eventually I took a job with The Salvation Army as the chaplain of an 86-bed rehab in Nashville where I preached up to 5 times a week for 5 1/2 years. Then The Salvation Army asked my wife and me to start a “non-traditional church” in Nashville. They asked if we had any ideas of how we could do things differently.
About that time I had a dream. I was standing in front of a group of people and they were standing up and talking about God. There was a banner on the wall behind me that read: “Show & Tell What God Has Done!” That helped confirm God’s call for us to establish a sermon-free church — to lay down my preaching and instead to let ordinary men and women show and tell what God has done and is doing in their lives. So we went sermon-free 5 1/2 years ago.
The results have been incredible. People come alive when they are allowed to share what God is doing in their lives and what God is telling them. They begin to listen to one another and minister to one another. Loving community breaks out. People begin to be transformed and to grow into spiritual warriors. It’s truly amazing! When I get out of the way, stop being the center of attention, and begin to empower others, God greatly uses the people around me.
Maybe that’s why I write, blog, and post on Facebook so much. I still have so much to say. This way I can say it without taking up valuable time during Sunday morning church. This helps me to let others use their beautiful giftings during church meetings.
It’s hard. It’s really hard to lay down something you love to do and to allow others to step out in their gifts. However, I would encourage all preachers to give it a try: stop preaching for a few Sunday mornings and let the people in the congregation share as they feel led by the Spirit. There may be some awkward moments, but don’t jump in and fill the silence with the sound of your own voice. Instead pray and wait for God to use the people around you. You will be amazed at what God will do through the ordinary people in your church.
Now I’m a pastor who doesn’t preach. I just love people, encourage them, and let them share the beautiful truths that they have experienced in their lives. I’m like a basketball official, watching over Sunday church to help keep things flowing smoothly, seeking to keep the attention on the living, resurrected Jesus Christ.
If you would like to see sermon-free church in action, visit us at The Salvation Army Berry Street, 225 Berry St., Nashville, 37207, on Sunday mornings at 10:45.