EP 221 – SHARING THE PULPIT
Hey Bootcampers, thanks for joining us this week! Today after Jimbo recounts his misadventures with “hot chicken” the guys get down to the serious business of speaking about an important leadership move, sharing the Pulpit. Do you share preaching responsibilities in your church? How would you start? What is the benefit? Listen in and follow along and be encouraged to take steps to add to your preaching team.
Why should you share the pulpit?
- Gives your congregation a diverse diet of preachers
- It is an avenue for raising up, empowering, and sending out new leaders
- Helps keep you in a humble posture
- Creates space for personal renewal
Gives your congregation a diverse diet of preachers
- Sometimes it can be helpful to hear from different but unified perspectives or styles
Avenue for raising up, empowering, and sending out new leaders
- Move toward decentralized leadership
- There is a shortage of pastors right now – there is no better place to raise them up than in local churches – normative-sized local churches
- There is no better way to help raise up preachers than to let them preach
- It is a blessing to see others thrive in their God-given gifts and passions
Helps keep you in a humble posture
- Makes sure Jesus is the main hero
- Sets the church up better for your eventual exit via death, retirement, or resignation. Every pastor is an interim pastor
Creates space for personal renewal
- As wonderful as the opportunity and blessing to preach are it can become burdensome (6 weeks seems to be a consistent pattern from people I have talked with)
- It can be very refreshing and encouraging to sit under preaching
- It frees you up to spend more energy on other pastoral tasks instead of prep
Get the help you need Bootcamper with your digital presence. Our good friends over at One Eighty Digital can get you up and running in the right way. Contact them today and let them know you are a listener.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are, back at it again, back at the boot camp. Bob, I hope you’re ready for the next episode. I’ve got a Nashville question for you, Bob.
Bob Bickford: Okay. Hopefully I’ll have a national answer.
JimBo Stewart: How much Nashville hot chicken have you eaten since
Bob Bickford: Zero, zero.
JimBo Stewart: you not a Nashville hot chicken guy?
Bob Bickford: I am, but it’s on the other side of town. And um, I mean, there’s probably some here in East Nashville. Jimbo, this, this area in East Nashville is like the foodie capital of all of Nashville, like little boutique startup restaurants that are amazing. you know what, wait a second, Jim. No, no, I haven’t had Nashville hot chicken.
Um, which actually, do you know how, do you know the story behind it?
JimBo Stewart: I know the urban legend. I don’t know how true it is, but I know, I think I know the urban legend of a little bit infidelity and some spices to punish. And yeah, it was, uh, so it was, uh, A guy who cheated on his wife. [00:01:00] His wife decided she was going to punish him. So he got home from cheating on her and said, Make me some chicken, woman.
Uh, in my mind, that’s what it sounded like. And, uh, Ha
Bob Bickford: I thought you were reading from wiki just now.
JimBo Stewart: No, he said, Make me some chicken, woman. And, uh, So she said, I’ll show you. And she poured all the hot sauce and all the seasoning and everything all over it. And brought him some fried chicken. And he was like, This stuff is amazing!
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I saw, um, uh, an interview and they said, uh, one lady called it revenge chicken, right? So, or cheaters chicken, I guess you could call it that.
JimBo Stewart: yeah, it’s, uh, look, it’ll get you, man. It’s, uh, I can handle spice pretty well, but Nashville Hot Chicken’s got some, got some kick to it.
Bob Bickford: yeah, well you tanked up on it that one time you were down here in October, I think.
JimBo Stewart: I, uh, I came up to see our good buddy Miles [00:02:00] Mullen at the ERLC. He’s the chief of staff of the ERLC, and he, uh, uh, had Brent, Brent Leatherwood tagged along and ate lunch with us, and Uh, we went over and grabbed some Nashville hot chicken and, um, man, it had me almost choking by the end of it. And then I thought, that’s probably all I need to eat.
And then shortly after that, I picked up Mark Halleck from the airport and we’re driving to the church we’re going to go to. And, uh, he sees a Popeyes and says, man, pull into puts his, you know, his massive hand on my, on my shoulder. And it says, pull into that Popeyes, man, I’m gonna get me some chicken. And he goes, He asked for some spicy wings, and I was, he was like, you gotta eat something, and I was like, no, I actually just had lunch not long ago, and he’s like, you gotta eat with me, you gotta eat, you gotta share some of these wings, and so then I ate some spicy Popeye’s wings, uh, and, and that was like about all I had for the day.
And, um, I, I [00:03:00] learned, man, that’s not a, that’s not a good decision. You should not have a diet that only consists of spicy chicken.
Bob Bickford: No, you got you some bread in there. You got to get some mashed potatoes going in there. You got to have something to dilute the hot chicken. Cause, uh, you’ll not only have it hot once, you’ll have it hot twice. If you know what I’m saying.
JimBo Stewart: My tummy was angry.
Bob Bickford: And I can say that cause I’m no longer on the replant team. So I just want them to throw that out there.
JimBo Stewart: My tummy was so angry, man. You know, if that were to happen on a Sunday morning, I don’t even know if I would be able to step up and preach. I would, I’d have to get somebody else to take the pulpit for me.
Bob Bickford: I hear you, man. Um, that is not good. Well, I’m glad you survived it. And, um, I’m glad that, uh, you were gracious enough to eat with Halleck. You, you kind of pulled the missionary, uh, with Halleck there. You, you know, he wanted to eat, so you ate with him. So that was good of you
JimBo Stewart: Well, you do what you can, man. Speaking of how, like one of the things he’s [00:04:00] passionate about is, uh, that you shouldn’t always be the one in the pulpit. that you should figure out how to, how to share the pulpit and, um, you know, something I’ve been thinking about and I was thinking, you know, we’re getting towards the end of the year.
Uh, we’re halfway through December, getting towards the end of the year. You’re, you’re probably thinking through things you want to accomplish in your ministry next year. So, pastor, I got a challenge for you. I want to put an idea in your mind for consideration. What if you were to make one of your goals for 2024, uh, to share the pulpit more?
Uh, I’m not going to give you a numeric amount that I think you need to make your goal. But just share it more. And I think there’s a lot of reasons why. Um, and I’ll list these and then we’ll go into them one by one. I think one, it gives your congregation a diverse diet of preachers and preaching. I think two, it’s an avenue for raising up, empowering, and sending out new leaders.
I think three, it [00:05:00] helps you Keep, uh, helps keep you in a humble posture, uh, helps you fight back pride and keep you from being the hero. And then the, uh, fourth one, it creates space for you to get some renewal and refreshing. So those are the the reasons that I think you should consider sharing your pulpit more.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I love that. I love that you did not include, so you can go on vacation. Right. So I think that may be one of them. But there’s a higher purpose
JimBo Stewart: I would say certainly you can do that to go on vacation, but I’m talking about you even still being there, like you’re still there on Sunday. You’re just not always the one preaching.
Bob Bickford: 100%. I totally agree with that. And I think it’s, it’s important for you to see how your discipling and your preaching are shaping others in the congregation who could share with that task with you. Now, that’s if you’re raising up leaders within the congregation, then some guys may go, man, I, I’m not sure I have somebody who could preach for me, [00:06:00] Um, that’s when you’ve got an associational leader.
Maybe you’ve got some other pastor friends. Um, but the goal I think would be to raise up pastors within your own congregation or preachers within your own congregation that can assist you with the teaching task.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. I think, you know, ideally this is people from within your church, but if not, that’s fine. It can be people from without, I’m preaching at a church this Sunday that, uh, has enough staff that the pastor could. Have others do his weeks off, but he I was talking with him about today. He decided during December He wanted to make sure all of his staff was able to get a little bit of rest and not do it So he gets some opportunities other times in the year and he decided to take a couple weeks of him not preaching So he had Bob Bumgarner last week and then i’ll be preaching this sunday Uh to give him just a couple weeks out of the pulpit without putting that on his staff during december and i’m fine with that I think that’s Excellent.
Uh, I think you should highlight your denominational partners. I think you should, uh, we can even throw that as [00:07:00] another reason to do this, right? I think you should, you should highlight your partnerships, your mission partnerships, your denominational partnerships. Um, but if for no other reason, um, just like it’s not a good idea to only eat spicy chicken all day, You know, you need to give some variety in the diet of who people are getting to hear and the types of preaching that they’re getting to hear.
And it can be helpful, uh, for them to hear from a different but unified perspective. So it still needs to be in unity, uh, with the heartbeat of the church and the doctrine of the church. But, uh, man, it can be really good to hear from different styles and perspectives.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, that’s a good word. It has to be in unity. It’s You know it’s a bad Sunday if some guy that is within your church gets up and preaches and says, look, now I just want to say everything we’ve been doing for the last year and a half, um, is all wrong. And here’s where we need to go. You friends now have yourselves a coup, right?
JimBo Stewart: Yes. [00:08:00]
Bob Bickford: that’s not what we’re talking about. So you know, you got to do a little vetting, a little training. You probably even want to ask to see the guy’s outline and manuscript before you want to want to help him with it, et cetera. Uh, but let’s just, let’s take all that into account and say, this is a good pick and they’re patient and they’re kind and they’re willing to be, uh, collaborative in the process.
And so find that person and develop them and then give them some opportunity.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I could even see that being a reason why you might not want to. Explore an idea like this as you think, you know, what, what are they going to get up there and say, what are they, you know, this could be, uh, something that brings disunity and it could, it could be something that brings, uh, disunity. I remember, um, one of the, the very first ministry job or role I ever had, Bob, was at a RA camp.
In Esco, Mississippi, um, which is, uh, next to Possum neck, Mississippi. And, [00:09:00] the.
Bob Bickford: Is that a, uh, is that a Mississippi delicacy possum neck?
JimBo Stewart: I’ve never had an ace. I have no, I, I’ve never heard of anybody having, I don’t know why it was called that, but,
Bob Bickford: It seems like that’s, I imagine it’s like pork rinds.
JimBo Stewart: who knows, man. Kosciusko, uh, there next to Possum Neck at Central Hills, Baptist Retreat, uh, Mississippi. And there was a guy who came, we would have a different camp preacher each week. And, uh, there was a guy who he had gone to our staff trailer, uh, where when you had a, when you had a break.
You could go to the staff trailer. It’s kind of the only way to get away from kids all week. Um, and there’s no, I mean, we’re so out in the middle of nowhere, Bob. There’s no TV. There’s no antenna. There’s no, I mean, you’re not picking up any local channels, anything. So the only thing that you can watch in there is an old VHS of, uh, Mel Brooks Blazing Saddles.
I’ve seen Blazing Saddles so many times, I could quote the whole thing.[00:10:00]
Bob Bickford: Oh, and
JimBo Stewart: So, this guy,
Bob Bickford: that, and that survived the WMU camp. They didn’t throw that away
JimBo Stewart: well, well, I, I don’t, they may have, after this guy, I don’t know which part of it he saw, but whatever part of it he saw when he went in the staff trailer, I guess, he decided to have a coup, and bring, when all the parents came to pick up their kids, he pulls them all in, uh, away from where the counselors know that they are, we don’t know where they are, the guy running the can doesn’t know where they are.
Uh, all the parents, he’s pulled all the parents in and is telling them that the staff has been watching hardcore pornography in the staff trailer.
Bob Bickford: Oh, my soul. We just took a turn Jimbo. What
JimBo Stewart: was this whole huge coup because I was thinking about the coup. And look, I get, you give somebody else a microphone, you have no idea what they might say. Well, one, here’s the deal. Here’s how you, here’s how you mitigate that. Um, uh, one, don’t watch Blazing Saddles. Um, two, [00:11:00] um, If your denominational partners, your mission partners ought to be able to provide somebody you know that’s going to speak in unity in what you’re doing, you don’t have to see their manuscript before they preach.
But if you’re raising people up, if this is an opportunity for you to raise up people and teach them how to preach and work with them, then you do need to work with them on what their, uh, their outline is and their manuscript and how they’re dealing with the text. And, um, Uh, that needs to be a formative process that you have a voice in
Bob Bickford: Yeah, that’s, it’s important. And I think we’re, we’re really talking about the fact that we’re called to equip and, um, and develop and that’s, that’s missing. We’ve outsourced Jimbo. And I think it’s important for us to reclaim that in some ways and bring that back into the church.
JimBo Stewart: that moves us to the second point, which is this gives you an avenue for raising up, empowering and sending out new leaders. Um, it gives you helps you move towards decentralized leadership, [00:12:00] shared leadership, like we talked about last week’s episode. Um, Listen, there is a shortage of pastors right now, Bob.
There are fewer pastors ready to jump into churches, especially normative sized churches, where they’re probably going to have to be bivocational or co vocational of some kind. There are fewer pastor candidates. If you want to word it that way, signing up for MDivs at seminaries. Um, and I’ll tell you, I, I am a huge believer that there is no better place to raise up the next crop of pastors than in local churches, normative sized, local churches.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, you can, you can get training, uh, imported to your local church via the internet and you can raise, you can do preaching cohorts. I mean, there’s so much material that’s out there and I think you can avail yourself to it. And I think that you’re going to have a few folks in your congregation. That want to be equipped, right.
And that are, that are exploring a call to ministry. [00:13:00] But I think Jimbo, the precursor to that is, is one things we were, we were talking about, um, some months ago when I was serving with the replant team, this need to call out the called. Right. And so there’s, there’s a regular, um, sees seeding of that idea that needs to take place in your church.
Right. So you just simply need to say on quite some regular basis that, you know, it’s very likely that the Lord will call some of you here to vocational service as pastors. As lay leaders, as missionaries, that, that I believe that God wants to use people in this body for his kingdom. And so, once you join me in praying for that, you know, Luke 10 too, talking about, you know, praying for the harvest, etc.
So, um, I mean, I think it’s just important for us to do that.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. And look, man, there’s no better way to help raise up preachers than to just let them preach. you can have them preaching cohorts and certainly that should probably be the first time they preach is in a group of some other people or at a nursing [00:14:00] home or something like that. but there’s still nothing like having them stand up on a Sunday morning and, and preach to your congregation, uh, and, and help them see, it’s a blessing man to see others thrive in their God given gifts and passions.
Bob Bickford: I love it.
JimBo Stewart: Next thing is it helps you keep in a humble posture, um, and helps communicate that you are not the hero and make sure that Jesus is the main hero and not you. Uh, we talk about decentralized leadership and shared leadership and that you are not the hero. This is not a CEO model where you’re the guy who fixes everything and is the answer to everything.
And we can say that all we want, but if you’re the one preaching. Every Sunday morning, uh, and then you’re preaching Sunday nights and you’re leading Wednesday nights and you’re like if you’re doing all of this Uh, then you’re kind of making yourself the hero of it all and in a way and not on purpose I don’t even think you’re necessarily doing it out of arrogance.
You might be but it doesn’t even require [00:15:00] arrogance It’s just maybe it’s out of necessity and you’re seeing that but I think this is something you ought to make a goal and pray Towards because it helps Even the congregation understand that they are not dependent on just you being able to stand up there and preach.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. There, there’s, um, there’s a great need for humility, uh, in the life of spiritual leaders. Right? And, um, when you are able to transition from, uh, this place of, I need the affirmation of people to I desire the affirmation of the Lord.
JimBo Stewart: Mm.
Bob Bickford: And Jim, there’s some, some guys that don’t, you know, they don’t desire the affirmation of people, but there’s something, there’s something in a lot of us who’ve been in ministry for some time that wants people to say, good job, or to, to affirm [00:16:00] the work that we’ve done in preparing our sermons, et cetera, you know, that sort of thing.
And in there’s one way that you can, uh, fight against that and is not, and that’s not having to be the one that throws all the pitches. And celebrating the person who is stepping up and learning about their gifting and learning about communication. And so what I would say with this too, Jimbo is the words of a leader are so vitally important.
So I agree with you if you’re there and you should be there. As others teach, make sure that you’re listening with every fiber that you can and find some things to affirm about that person who stepped up to deliver God’s word through a sermon, like finds a couple things that you can affirm and I’ll right after they do that, um, you know, you affirm that and then let a couple of days go by and simply say, Hey, how, uh, let’s debrief.
How did you think you did? You know, Did you get some other feedback? What would you like to do [00:17:00] differently, etc. And so you’re able to have a conversation that that provides critiquing elements rather than providing them up front on asked for the moment you step off the stage. That’s where you need to affirm and encourage and to do that.
It requires humility because you’re probably going to hear some things that go, man, that was, uh, I think somebody got beamed with that ball, right? That was thrown in the car. That’s a headshot, right? That’s bad. All right. Don’t do that. Or like, you’ll notice something about their delivery, their cadence, their, their, you know, pauses their arms and their us.
And so there’ll be a lot that you can critique, but don’t sit there and be a critique person. You’d sit there and be a coach and encourager.
JimBo Stewart: That’s a good word. You know, the, I was laughing the, the worst thing, uh, I had a resident do in the pulpit and this guy is now a great pastor from where else. And he’s doing just a great job leading a church and revitalization. He came into the residency with us. We had this issue. I’ve told the story before.
Uh, so I won’t rehash the whole thing [00:18:00] where I made a promise I shouldn’t have made to a senior adult lady when I first got there, that I would not change the pulpit. itself until she gave me her blessing to change it. and I made that promise, assuming at some point she would give that, that permission.
She had no intention of ever giving that permission. I watched a video of, uh, when I was sick this past week, I watched, I watched our church, uh, that I used to pastor pulpit was sitting up there on the stage. And, This resident knew about this issue. Um, and, uh, he. essentially called her out by name in his sermon. And, uh, man, as soon as he did, Audrey’s nails went right into my thigh. she was like, you, I was like, bro, you got to go apologize now. Like, like, so, so yeah, some things are going to [00:19:00] happen and they’re going to humble you more than you anticipated. the other way it might be humbling for you, As you bring in a guest preacher from your denomination or from another church and they’re better than you, and they get up there and man, they just knock it out of the park and three people get saved and you’re just like,
Bob Bickford: And the deacons call you for a special meeting right after the service.
JimBo Stewart: But again, this is where we’ve got to trust the Lord. Um, and you know, I heard a denominational guy, a friend tell me one time he goes, you know, when I go guest preach somewhere, I try to always do just a little less good than the normal guy. So they don’t put him in a bad spot. But, uh, look, this, this sets the church up better.
For your eventual exit via death, retirement, or resignation, every pastor is an interim pastor, and [00:20:00] they can’t be dependent entirely on you, and your style, and your delivery, and the way that you preach. Um, you’ve got to walk that in humility and understand, uh, that that’s not your role. so, First four and then the first three, and then we’ll get to the fourth one.
It gives your congregation a diverse diet of preachers. It’s not just Nashville hot chicken all day. You, it gives you an avenue for raising up, empowering, and sending out new leaders. And it helps you stay humble and keeps Jesus as the hero. And then the last reason I’m going to give. As it creates space for you to have personal renewal, um, as wonderful as the opportunity and blessing to preach on a regular basis is, it can be burdensome and it can start to feel like a pretty heavy load to carry.
What I’ve found, Bob, and talking to a lot of guys, is it’s usually about six weeks in a row that it starts to feel a little too heavy. Um, and, and so what I’ve done with that is I’ve just encouraged guys, [00:21:00] man, every Every four to six weeks somewhere in that four to six week range Somebody else needs to be in the pulpit.
and that can be a denominational guy. It can be somebody you’re raising up can be Whatever, but if you can at least every four to six weeks somebody else needs to be in the pulpit.
Bob Bickford: That’s a really good word. I remember in the early season of renewing our church and the replant, I really struggled with that. And, we had some guys come up and then it was kind of, you know, experienced some challenges with those guys, some leadership coups, some moral failures and some different things.
And so Jimbo, I basically just kind of locked the pulpit and I was like, it’s just going to be me. Right. And, um, and so there was a season there where, man, I was preaching every Sunday and I was exhausted and I had good reasons. It kind of went into it, you know, um, for some, for some, you know, uh, at least immediate.
But ultimately I was exhausted and I didn’t just need one [00:22:00] Sunday off Jimbo. I needed, I needed several and you don’t often get several Sundays off at an enormous size church. You maybe get one, maybe two, uh, in a row. And, and so if you space. If you space your, your absence out, if you’re still present and working and shepherding the people, you might get a little more grace to take a little more time off of the pulpit and you probably won’t need being such a deficit needing renewal.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, and that’s where I mean Maybe this is you taking off and you being somewhere else But this is again i’m primarily even really talking here about you’re there Sitting with your people and think about this if you’ve got a wife and kids How often do you get to just sit in the pew next to your wife, next to your kids and listen to a sermon?
that’s probably not often. Um, and so this frees you up and it can be, man, it can be really refreshing and encouraging to sit under somebody else’s preaching and not be the [00:23:00] one in charge of that, that week. Uh, but it also frees you up not to take necessarily the week off, but to spend your energy on some other pastoral task.
Maybe, maybe that’s when you set up your premarital counseling or your. pastoral counseling or some other visitation or some other things that you’re doing, outside of the pulpit that you have had a hard time finding a way to fit into your week. Now it’s a little easier to fit into your week because you don’t have that sermon prep time and it frees you up to feel renewed by doing a little bit different.
routine than you normally have.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I think so. That’s such good advice. And, um, pastors, you have to make sure that you’re guarding your life and watching your life. This is the pay, pay close attention to your doctrine, but also pay close attention to your life because you could have the right doctrine and the right theology and you could be worn out and exhausted and be in a [00:24:00] position where some little thing could trip you up and there could be a calamity.
Thank you. Amen. Amen. Uh, of moral failing that befalls you because you’re exhausted and not renewed and you’re not joy filled. Right? And so, um, uh, Jimbo, one of my favorite, favorite reels or means or whatever the kids are calling them these days. is this, uh, this little kid from the south who’s, um, he looks like he’s like three bowling balls stacked on one another and he’s got a blonde headed mullet and, uh, he comes home from school and his dad’s just, you know, videoing him and the kid says some funny things all the time, but.
The kid basically says to his dad, he said, look, I’ve been at school all day. I’ve been working hard and I’m cranky. I need a nap. Right. And he goes, but you want to wrestle later? And he goes, maybe he walks off and it’s so hilarious. The kid knows I’m not doing well. I need rest and pastor. If you can be as smart [00:25:00] as that little blonde headed kid with the Southern accent and the mullet, um, let’s go take a nap and get some rest.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, man. Look, you can do this. Even if you’ve only got one person in your church that you can start with, then just start with that one. And look, every four to six weeks, give them an opportunity. If you don’t even have one, That’s fine. Start leaning on denominational network partners, other churches to help you do this, start praying and seeking after a way that you can not only use this for your renewal and to keep you humble and give a diverse diet of preachers, but also as an avenue for raising up, empowering, and sending out new leaders.