What Should a Guest Preacher Expect?

photo credit: MjZ Photography via photopin cc

Recently, I wrote a post titled “How Much Should You Pay a Guest Preacher?” The post provided a formula for determining, from the church administrative perspective, how much to pay guest preachers. My hope is that the formula provided church leaders with a way determine guest preacher pay beyond the “shot in the dark” method.

Shortly after the post appeared, I received questions surrounding the proper expectations of guest preachers. Such questions did not surprise me. For some, the guidelines I suggested for host churches did not match their experiences. And I could tell that they were frustrated. So, to help answer this question of guest preacher expectations, I have put together four considerations. As you evaluate your own expectations, I ask that you consider these thoughts:

1. There is a calling.

Ministers operate out of a sense of calling. We identify our calling by a deep, inner longing for ministry work. This sense of calling is confirmed by those around us. For some, this includes preaching. Many are feel compelled by God to teach the Bible to others. This calling should not be ignored but passionately pursued.

2. God can use money to determine how the calling fleshes itself out.

Our calling is never determined by money, but God can use money to determine how our calling fleshes itself out. Bi-vocational pastors know this well. For those called to preach, the presence or absence of money can determine where and when you preach. This is no way minimizes the calling, but helps shape it.

3. It’s ok to say “no.”

Frequently, we say “no” to guest preaching requests because of scheduling conflicts. It is ok to do the same if being a guest preacher causes significant harm to your family’s finances. If saying “yes” puts your utility bill payment at risk, you can politely decline.

4. Be careful with expectations.

You will often hear me repeat the phrase, “Those who see themselves as entitled to nothing, become grateful for everything.” Many studies show that a person’s satisfaction level is frequently tied to their expectation level. This can be seen in relationships, marriages, job responsibilities, and finances.

If you choose to say “yes” to a church, do it without expectation. Remember, you are motivated by a calling, not financial gain. Find satisfaction in receiving an opportunity to exercise your calling. This will not disappoint.

If you have any additional thoughts, please provide them in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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7 thoughts on “What Should a Guest Preacher Expect?

  1. This is a great post…especially the part of having the freedom to say no. I recently filled 3 Sundays for a church that required a 70 mile commute, round trip. After the first Sunday, I requested mileage reimbursement and this was declined. I kept my commitment of the remaining two Sundays under the terms of no reimbursement for mileage but let them know going forward, I would need mileage reimbursement to return as a guest. The church finance committee declined. Do you think this was wrong on my part to take such a stand? It isn’t an issue of the church not being able to afford the request. Thoughts? Thanks!

    • Great question! First of all, you were right to keep your original commitment. And as long as the “no” is handled in a polite and gracious manner, I see no wrongdoing. That is my general answer. Obviously, there are many details (your financial situation, whether or not the amount paid by the church was meant to cover mileage) that are rightfully absent. Thank you for your comment!

      • Good question. I agreed to fill in the initial Sunday and did not discuss compensation until the first honorarium was given. After receiving the $100 honorarium, I then communicated that my requested fee was $150 plus mileage. The deacon chairman said there was a miscommunication and the payment should have been $150. He said he would check with the finance committee on the mileage and I agreed to return two more Sundays to help fill their need. He later let me know the mileage could not be reimbursed. After fulfilling my commitment of the remaining two Sundays, I didn’t push the mileage issue until being asked to return. I politely asked if mileage could be reimbursed and if not, I would need to decline. The chairmen again asked the finance committee and they again declined. At this point he was in a bind for the following Sunday and said he would personally pay mileage. I didn’t feel comfortable with that but agreed to come letting him know going forward the church would need to take care of mileage for me to return. I haven’t been invited back since but am ok with that because I simply cannot afford to wear out my vehicle for them. They are dragging their feet on finding an Interim and I can quickly see this would have turned into a week by week pulpit supply with no compensation for my commute. Honestly, this is a FBC with a strong budget and I was quite surprised they had such an issue with my request. They are not paying a FT pastor and there are no other FT staff. I appreciated the initial blog post of having the freedom to say no and knew that’s the best decision unless I wanted to wear out my vehicle. I really enjoyed the people there and would have liked to serve them as an Interim under the right terms…but the initial denial of my mileage reimbursement on two different occasions have me a sense this probably wasn’t something I needed to pursue. I found it quite sad they were so firm seeing as I was their guest and the drive was longer than a normal commute for this area. Any additional thoughts are appreciated. Thanks.