Visiting ministers can be a great blessing to any
church. But if you don’t do your homework, you could be inviting disaster.
A friend of mine recently told me
that the leaders of a ministry invited a prominent American preacher to speak
at a conference. During discussions about the engagement, the preacher’s
handlers explained two of the terms of his visit: (1) he was always to be
addressed as “apostle” by anyone who spoke to him; and (2) he was to be ushered
out of the auditorium and into a green room immediately after he delivered his
sermon, to guarantee that he would not have to fraternize with the audience. He
needed his privacy.
If I had been on the other end of
the telephone conversation that day, I would have offered this reply: “Please
tell Apostle Arrogance that since he is so concerned about being bothered by
the little people, never mind. Just don’t come. We don’t need the disease he is
spreading in the body of Christ. God bless you.” Click.
“I have heard horror stories of ministers who required their
hosts to provide shopping money, certain types of exotic bottled water,
limousines and manicurists. A childish rock star might be expected to ask for
these luxuries, but such behavior is reprehensible for a minister of the
gospel. Don’t cater to their appetites.”
That may sound harsh, but I don’t
think there’s any other way to prevent the spread of this plague. The
“celebrity syndrome” is still alive in 2011, in spite of the recession, and the
only way we are going to stop big-headed charlatans from corrupting churches is
to boycott them. We need to hand them a pink slip. I recommend these
Investigate before you invite. There are many wonderful traveling ministers
who carry genuine anointings and can bring great blessing to churches and
ministry events. They have been called by God as evangelists, prophets,
teachers and apostolic leaders—and those who walk in the anointing of the Holy
Spirit will produce fruit wherever they go.
But there are also imposters on
the preaching circuit. Some of them once carried the anointing and lost it;
others actually entered the ministry as fakes and learned to prey on naïve
congregations. Don’t give anyone a platform who has a questionable record.
Always find out who they are accountable to. If they have no relationships, no
oversight or no reference board, you are taking a great risk by having them in
Slam the door on egotism. The celebrity syndrome is easy to detect. Does the
visiting preacher have a servant’s spirit? Or does he come across as cocky and unapproachable? Any man or woman engaged in ministry should have the attitude
of Jesus, who was willing to ride a donkey into Jerusalem and wash the feet of
His disciples. If you allow a prideful, unbroken preacher in your pulpit, you
are giving a spirit of Lucifer the opportunity to infect your congregation.
Don’t feed the spirit of entitlement. Every traveling minister appreciates a
gracious host. You show honor when you provide him or her with a nice hotel
room, meals and transportation during their stay. But you should be alarmed if
a preacher demands celebrity treatment.
I have heard horror stories of
ministers who required their hosts to provide shopping money, certain types of
exotic bottled water, limousines and manicurists. One preacher who recently
ministered in Australia demanded a certain type of steak that had to be flown
across the Pacific Ocean from the United States! A childish rock star might be
expected to ask for these luxuries, but such behavior is reprehensible for a
minister of the gospel. Don’t cater to their appetites.
Don’t tolerate financial rape. I know of an American minister who
traveled to a church in Canada and insisted that the pastor rent a civic
auditorium that seated more than a thousand people. The pastor couldn’t afford
the hall, but the evangelist said she wouldn’t come unless a large venue was
provided. In the end, the evangelist canceled the trip because not enough people
registered for the conference—and the pastor was left holding the bag. His
church went bankrupt.
A true minister of the gospel
would never push a church to go into debt just to satisfy his or her
egotistical need for a big crowd. Jesus was just as comfortable preaching to a
few disciples as he was to a multitude, and He didn’t base success on numbers.
If you fall into the numbers trap you will be sorry.
Also, a shepherd who cares about
his or her flock will never allow a visiting preacher to manipulate a
congregation financially. Visiting speakers who spend 30 to 45 minutes begging
for money, or making outlandish claims of “supernatural returns” for investing
in their work, are shysters who need to leave the ministry and find a job on a
home shopping network.
Beware of strange fire. A minister imparts his life, not just the words of his
sermons. That is why it is so important for preachers of the gospel to walk in
humility, sexual purity and financial integrity. If a minister has allowed
compromise in any of those areas, his anointing will be hindered and he may
pollute your pulpit and leave a toxic environment in your church.
I talked to one pastor in
California who had invited a speaker to his annual conference. But before the
speaker arrived, the pastor learned that this man often used drug imagery in
his sermons and even compared the Holy Spirit to marijuana. When he asked the
speaker to refrain from such references, the man arrogantly refused. Thankfully
the pastor did the right thing: He politely but firmly canceled the man’s
It is possible for us to “just
say no” to the charlatans, shysters, con men and rock star evangelists who
have never submitted their lives to the discipline of the Spirit. Please heed
the warnings, inspect the fruit and be willing to disinvite.