Should Pastors Preach Less Often?

When I served as a pastor, I seldom missed preaching on a Sunday. Other than vacations, I was in the pulpit for both Sunday morning and Sunday night (and Wednesday night, for that matter). Thus, I’m surprised when I see young pastors who invite others to preach regularly in their place—sometimes as often as once a month, if not more. 

This approach makes me wonder what I would do if I were pastoring today. Here’s my thinking. 

Why I Would Invite Others to Preach More Often

  1. Taking breaks would be good for me. Rest seldom hurt anybody. And, it would give me more time to prepare for future sermons. 
  2. I would want to give opportunities to others called to preach. Frankly, I’m much more open to this reality now after having taught students for 20+ years.
  3. It would be good for the congregation to hear other voices. Sometimes congregations hear a different voice saying the same thing they’ve been hearing, and still they hear it better. 
  4. It would do me good to hear from others. The pastor just needs to listen to the Word, too, and let it change him.  
  5. It’s an expression of humility. For the leader to take a seat is not always easy. It’s a good thing to do at times, however. 
  6. It would make the church less dependent on me. If something were to happen to me, they would know that God has already equipped many other leaders. 

Why I’d be Hesitant to Invite Others to Speak More Often

  1. I would already be missing several Sundays a year. Vacation, conferences, special Sundays (like a missions Sunday), and sickness would already keep me out of the pulpit, and I don’t know if I would want to miss more. 
  2. I just love to preach. I know that’s a selfish reason, but I’m trying to be honest with my assessment.  
  3. Too many voices can make it difficult for the congregation to hear a single vision. It’s certainly possible for multiple preachers to cast the same vision; I’m simply saying it’s not easy, and not every team gets there.
  4. I’ve heard disaster stories of pastors inviting the wrong persons to speak. When that happens, the pastor’s work is hardly lessened. 
  5. Preaching is a primary means by which my congregation would get to know me. It’s amazing to me how emotionally connected a church can get to the person who preaches the Word for them week after week. 

In general, I think I would preach less often – but I would be cautious about asking the right persons to speak in my place. 

Pastors, what do you think? What do you do? Are you using a team of preachers? 


  • Dennis Blankenship says:

    Good article. The way I see it, it’s not just about preaching, it’s about pastoring your people. You are their Pastor and a big part of that is “feeding the flock.”

  • Robin Jordan says:

    At my former church the senior pastor shared the pulpit with two other preachers. All three preachers shared a common vision and common goals for the church and they planned the various preaching series together. Sometimes they preached different parts of a preaching series. Sometimes they preached an entire series. This worked. The congregation was exposed to three different preaching styles. At the same time the three preachers were always on the same page. They preached same message.

    At my present church I share the pulpit with three other preachers. Each preacher usually preaches on one Sunday of the month. Two of the preachers are church leaders who were carrying the burden of leading worship and preaching before I arrived. The third preacher is the pastor of another church in the same tradition but a different jurisdiction, who by agreement between his bishop and my bishop administers the Lord’s Supper on one Sunday of the month. In the tradition to which both churches belong only an ordained minister may administer the Lord’s Supper. I am the fourth preacher. I am licensed by my bishop to preach sermons of my own composition and was given temporary pastoral charge of the church.

    One of the pastors in my jurisdiction serves as my supervisor and mentor. He advised me to not to make any changes in this setup since one of the reasons that the two church leaders attend the church may be their preaching ministry. The congregation is quite small and every loss of a church member brings it one step nearer to closure. The only thing that ties the sermons together is the table of Scripture readings that the church is expected to follow. Each preacher essentially preaches on whatever he wants on the Sunday that is his turn to preach. Preaching series are next to impossible. Everyone is on a different page. The biblical and theological content of the sermons varies with the preacher.

    If anything the setup highlights the weaknesses of having more than one preacher. It also permits those church members who do not like the content of the sermons of a particular preacher to show their disapproval by absenting themselves on the Sundays he preaches. This means that those church members who may need to hear these sermons the most are not there on those Sundays. Because the atonement, the need for repentance from sin and for a personal faith in Jesus Christ, Great Commandment, and the Great Commission are frequent themes in my sermons, I am that particular preacher.

  • Rev. Slade Alday says:

    Just had this discussion today with my pastor. I’m an ordained SBC pastor not currently on staff and between churches. Our pastor will be out of town a few days and return very late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. I offered to preach for him that morning and he was as grateful saying “yes but let me double check with personnel comm to be sure it’s ok”. They denied request saying per by-laws that if the Pastor is in attendance but not filling pulpit himself (except for scheduled revivals with an evangelist as those times are paid by church budget line items), he (the pastor) must compensate the supply preacher out of his pocket. By-laws further state that if supply preacher refuses/returns compensation to the pastor, he is required to give the money as an offering to the church. So…my pastor said in the 2yrs he’s been on staff there, he’s never asked someone to preach unless it was while on vacation or scheduled revival. My pastor is very underpaid (wife, 2 college age kids, 1 middle schooler) and said he just doesn’t have the money to pay me (I don’t want it to begin with) so he’s gonna just tough it out. It’s heartbreaking that he’s held hostage by this committee and ridiculous by-laws. To make it more confounding, I’ve spoken at this church in the past (before being a member), have led worship for the last 2 revivals, and currently lead worship along with my wife at this very church as a volunteer staff member. Scratching my head……

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Thanks for sharing the story. 

    • The bylaws/personnel committee issues are probably many of us small/mid-sized church pastors’ difficulty with this. Somewhere in the darkness of time beforehand, the church determined that the pastor must be the one preaching except for a revival, so they wrote into the laws of the Medes and the Persians which require supermajority votes to change.

      And so many of us would love to share the pulpit and hear the Word from time to time, but it’s not allowed.

  • Howard says:

    Expositors are hard to come by. If you and your church are committed to expository preaching (as my church and I are), that is going to limit how often you’re away. And not everyone who claims to be an expositor is an expositor.

  • Reagan Marsh says:

    We have a preaching team comprised of 2 elders, 2 interns, and me (pastor). Our guys are really growing as expositors of the gospel! We’re blessed with 2 other men as well who have served on the mission field and are competent preachers, whom we may put into the rotation soon. It has been a great blessing to me after having to handle Sun AM, PM, and Wed PM largely on my own for years; and our people have been so encouraged to see the men growing in the Word!

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