Preaching to Multiple Congregations

Balatonakali - the two churchesThis week I started preaching at a great church plant in Rose Park, UT, Redeeming Life Church. Bryan Catherman is the elder and senior pastor of that church and has been a friend of mine for many years now. He invited me to join him and his team as they spread the Gospel and grow a church. My first Sunday with Redeeming Life was great. They have a great ministry team and are growing like crazy. I am looking forward to what God will do through us in Rose Park.

This summer I wrote a blog post that originally appeared on  www.DanDumas.com, August 6, 2015. In this post I talked through some suggestions for preachers preaching to multiple congregations. I thought this would be a good time to repost this article to my own blog. 

At the time of the writing of the original post, I was preaching at Gateway Community Church in Draper, UT and Risen Life Church. I have now exchanged Gateway for preaching at Redeeming Life and continue to preach at Risen Life Church as well. 

Something I would add to the post below is the idea of presence. I mentioned spending time with members of each congregation so that the the pastor can know each flock well and so each congregation would be more apt to receive the pastor's preaching. But I have learned through several years of preaching to multiple congregations that the pastor's presence needs to be felt. This means you can't just show up and preach and fade into the sunset. Furthermore, it is a little different than spending time with people as well. Presence is the felt involvement of the pastor in the life of the church. Presence shows the congregation you care about them, the church, and where you are going together whether you are physically present or not. While showing up to church events is part of having presence, it can also be gained through encouraging text messages and calls, emails, social media, and a thank you note here and there. So if you preach to multiple congregations, don't just show up, but be present.

Enjoy, and as always I love to hear your feedback.

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Preaching to one congregation is hard work. Preaching to multiple congregations can be exhausting. Whether you preach multiple services at your church, or you preach to several different congregations, the challenges of preaching to multiple and diverse congregations are legion. The quantity of preaching is not necessarily the issue, in fact, as my preaching professor Dr. Hershael York use to say, “A preacher preaches!” and as preachers we should preach as much as God gives us opportunity and prudence allows.

The issue that quickly becomes relevant in preaching to different congregations that I have found is connecting with diverse audiences. As an exegetical preacher I want to ensure that the truths of the Word communicate with the audience I am speaking to.

Here are a few things I keep in mind as I prepare to preach to multiple congregations:

Spend time with the people of each congregation. The more time I spend with my flock(s) outside Sunday morning the better I know what they think about the world, what they are in to, the sin they struggle with, and how to apply the Gospel to their lives. Not only do I know them better, but they get to know me better and readily accept my teaching.

Use language that is appropriate for each audience. I love to talk original languages, theology, and geek out over typology. But my preferences don’t always communicate with my audience. As one of our elders at Risen Life Church, Robert Marshall, says often, “Know what to say and how to say it.” At Risen Life, I preach more technical sermons with further developed points since there are seasoned Christians in attendance. At Gateway Community Church, I preach in simpler terms, explaining every word I use for the new believers that make up this congregation, many who are recently coming out of Mormonism.

Here's a sermon prep tip for helping you communicate appropriately for each audience: Write out the main point of your sermon in a way that would please your favorite seminary professor. Then state your point so that a regular member of your congregation would understand. Next try writing your point for a youth kid, a child, and finally a non-believer. Working on writing your main point with these different audiences in mind will help you refine your point and communicate it effectively.

Be sensitive to the needs of each individual congregation. Different congregations have different needs. The traditional service may be mourning the loss of one of the founding members of the church, while the contemporary service may be celebrating the birth of four babies. The church you regularly speak at may be growing, while the little church down the road you help through pulpit supply may be in decline. Be sensitive to the needs of each congregation and modify your sermon as needed to speak to those needs.

Be faithful to the text and trust God to speak by the Holy Spirit to each congregation. No matter how much I try to be sensitive to the different audiences that I may preach to, ultimately it is the Holy Spirit’s job to speak through me to my congregation(s). My job as a preacher is to be faithful in committing myself to prayer and the preaching of the Word. I do everything I can to prepare to communicate the Gospel in my sermon, and then I trust that God will use my efforts for his glory.


Stand and deliver…and then do it again…in a different pulpit.





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