Finding Faithful Preachers to Fill-in the Pulpit

pulpitDuring my five years at Calvary Baptist Church in Seymour, Indiana one of my greatest joys was having faithful brothers come and deliver God’s Word to the God’s people. Filling the pulpit is not something to be taken lightly and I always sought to find a faithful messenger of the Word to feed the flock. For that reason, it was reassuring to bring seasoned pastors to fill-in, but it was equally rewarding to give younger men the opportunity to bring God’s Word.

An Appreciation for the Men Who Filled in the Pulpit

In my time seminary professors, Stephen Wellum, Timothy Paul Jones, Chad Brand, and Jeff Robinson came and shared messages on Revelation 4–5, Ephesian 2–3, 2 Kings 18, and Galatians 4, respectively. Personally encouraged by each of these brothers, it was always encouraging to share my friends them with our church. While each of these men are noted authors and well-respected theologians and could have opted for much larger congregations to serve, their love for the church of Jesus Christ impelled them to come and preach the gospel with passion and precision to our small town church. How thankful I am for such models of scholarship who love the local church.

At the same time, it was always refreshing to hear younger men preach the Word of God. Many times my heart was edified and instructed by the preaching of Sam Emadi and Nick Dorsey, the two student ministers who I served with at Calvary. I still remember Sam’s powerful message from the Sermon on the Mount and Nick’s insightful Sunday night sermon which exposed “not loving the world” as an interior (not exterior) problem.

Today, however, I want to highlight four messages presented by four faithful preachers who are not (yet) acclaimed pastor-theologians, but who are precious to the Lord as choice servants and faithful ministers of the gospel. They each brought a faithful word when they preached at my last church, showing a deep love for the gospel and for Christ’s church. I was and still am deeply encouraged by them, and they along with many others like them are one of the reasons why I am encouraged as I look at evangelicalism today.

I share their sermons below and encourage you to listen to them as you have time.

Matt Smethurst, editor for The Gospel Coalition: A Door, A Shepherd, A Son (John 10)

Kelly Wright, a student minister in Indianapolis: God is Faithful (Isaiah 40)

Nicholas Piotrowski, professor at Crossroads Bible College (Indianapolis): Son of David, Son of God (Matthew 1:23)

Harshit Singh, pastor from Lucknow, India: The Gospel Will Bear Fruit (Colossians 1:3–8)

A Post Script on Preaching

One of the most encouraging and beneficial things that I did while moving through nine years of seminary was taking every opportunity I could to preach. While challenging (as far as time goes and preparation too), the chance to preach the glorious truths I was learning from the Bible in class was critical for understanding the right questions to ask when studying in seminary. Especially when I became a pastor, the coupling of theological training and pastoral labors helped unite scholarship with suffering and counseling with content. To anyone in seminary now or in the future, I would encourage you to pray for and seek out opportunities to preach at your church (if there is a service to do that), a local nursing home, a mission shelter, a street corner, or an empty pulpit on any given Sunday. The people need to hear God’s Word and you need to preach the Word.

At the same time, there are few things local churches can do to impact the nations for Christ than to pray for laborers to be sent out into the world and to give young preachers opportunities to preach. Fortunately, the four men listed above have a great measure giftedness and experience in their messages. But even if they didn’t—and every preacher was once in those early stages—it is a kingdom-minded gift to the church universal when churches open their pulpits (under the care of a senior pastor) to listen attentively and with spiritually-minded feedback to the messages of young preachers. Having such opportunities early on in ministry was invaluable (as I wrote here) and missions-minded churches will look for ways to encourage budding preachers.

Ten years after preaching my first, in-the-pulpit Sunday morning sermon, I am still learning. I thank God for the early opportunities to do pulpit supply, for the few months I filled in at a church in Louisville, and for the five and a half years at Calvary Baptist Church (where these brothers filled in for me). While I sit with my family in the congregation these last few months, I look forward again to bringing God’s Word to God’s people on a regular basis.

Until then, I will rejoice in the faithful preaching of others and pray for the labors of those who deliver God’s work this weekend. Let me encourage you to do the same.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds

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