When a Pastor invites an evangelist, missionary or any other guest speaker, he assumes some responsibilities to that guest. The following list may be helpful to ensure that our guest speakers are taken care of and the meeting is a success.
- Communicate early and often with one another. The pastor should make it clear to the speaker what kind of meeting it is, if there is a theme, when the meetings begin and end and any other pertinent information.
- Send a letter to confirm the dates and times of the meetings as soon as you schedule the meeting. It is important that the guest speaker has the dates in writing on paper. That way there is not question about scheduling.
- Determine early in the scheduling process how the guest will travel to the church (airplane or driving.)
- The pastor should contact the guest speaker at least one week before the meeting and go over the schedule one more time. Confirm the guest’s mode of transportation (if flying, establish the pick up times from the airport) and answer any questions the speaker may have.
- Be sure to cover all the guest speaker’s travel expenses. I have always felt that it should not cost the guest anything to come and be with me. If he is driving, be sure to cover gas and food expenses both to and from the meeting. If he is flying, it is often best to send a check covering his ticket expense before he travels. Usually the evangelist and missionaries like to have their travel expenses taken care of with a separate check (for tax purposes), so check with him about this.
- Make sure you have the nicest accommodations possible for your guest speaker. If you have a “prophet’s chamber,” please make sure it is clean, neat, and well stocked with goodies. If at all possible, there should be internet connection and television. If he is staying in a motel, use the best motel you can afford; one that is neat and clean and not too far from the church. It is nice if there is a restaurant attached or nearby for the speaker’s convenience. It is best not to have guest speakers stay in the homes of church folks. Though this has been done in years gone by and may seem more economical, it presents difficulties for the guest. For instance, privacy is a major concern along with propriety concerning family members at night and during daytime hours when the husband is at work. House pets and allergies become a concern for the speaker also.
- It is not necessary to spend every moment with the evangelist. No doubt he has his work to do (study, correspondence, etc.) and needs time for himself. On the other hand, do not abandon him either. All men are different and some like to fellowship with the pastor more than others. Of course, if he has his family with him, he’ll require more time alone with his wife and kids.
- Do not drag the poor guy around with you on all your daily chores. He is not interested in sitting in your car while you’re in the post office or tagging along with you while you go grocery shopping.
- Plan an afternoon to do some sight-seeing or visit a local museum or something. Give him a diversion, especially in week-long meetings.
- Determine if he likes to get together for a meal before or after the service and schedule your week accordingly.
- Take advantage of his experience and ask him questions. Learn from him. Glean ways to improve your meetings. Again, moderation is important here – don’t drive him crazy by badgering him all through the meeting.
- At the end of the meeting, give him a very generous love offering. Evangelists and missionaries are God-called gifts to the church and should be compensated as such. It is very difficult to give too much to a man of God. We have found that God blesses our church when we give generously to the men He sends our way. Keep in mind that many missionaries and evangelists have no regular weekly income and must rely on the love offerings to pay their bills and meet their needs. Along with this, remember that many times they have blank weeks with no meeting or income, so your generosity helps make up for these “down” times.
- After the meeting is over, immediately send a thank you letter to your guest speaker. Express your gratitude for his ministry and report on any additional decisions or blessings you received as a result of his ministry.
- Treat your speaker as an honored guest. Whether a nationally renowned preacher or a young missionary family on deputation right out of Bible college, they should be treated with respect and dignity and given the best accommodations possible. My thought is that it is better to have less meetings and treat the guests right than to have meetings every other week and not be able to afford to take good care of the men you bring it.
There is much, much more that could be said and there are other preachers with much more experience than I that could add more to this list, but I trust that this will help. Over the years, we have heard horror stories as to how missionaries and evangelists have been treated by pastors and churches. Though the bad experiences are the exception and not the rule, (and of course, our Lord takes care of His servants), nevertheless, we can all work at improving how we treat our guests. If you would like to contact me about ideas on caring for guest speakers, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.