368. How I Choose a Guest Speaker

368. How I Choose a Guest Speaker

It is our custom to invite guest speakers for our members’ retreat. However, it is challenging to choose a retreat guest speaker every year. There aren’t that many pastors to select from, and I cannot watch or listen to all their sermons to decide if they will fit our congregation.

So I have set a few criteria which I use to select guest speakers:

1. Special Needs

We might have special needs in our ministry, such as healing, relationship, prayer, or house church ministry. Based on our needs, God sometimes reveals fitting speakers to address those needs.

2. Simple Obedience

Usually, I am not exactly sure who we need to invite, so I try to prayerfully discern and obey. I simply ask, “Lord, who do we need to invite this year?” I give some time, days, or weeks until someone pops up in my head consistently, or I notice someone through events. Then I try to invite that person in simple obedience to God, trusting that he knows best what our special needs are.

3. Visible Sacrifice

I try not to bring in the best preacher. It is because I believe that if a pastor has studied communication skills and gets enough practice, he can be recognized as a great preacher, even without a lifestyle to show for. What changes people is not inspiration but power, which comes from sacrifice. So I try to look for someone who exhibits measures of sacrifice in their effort to obey God’s will or advance God’s Kingdom. If I don’t know the pastor, it would be difficult to discern, but if they use their lives or ministry as examples often in their sermons, I see that as a good sign.

Having said all this, finding the perfect guest speaker is impossible because we cannot know if the speaker is right until the retreat is finished. That is why, instead of expecting a perfect guest speaker, it would be wiser to pray for an open heart to embrace whoever comes to speak for us at the retreat as God’s messenger. And just as you don’t have a choice of what message to hear on any given Sunday, consider a retreat to be an extension of the Sunday messages. So, pray more for your heart, than the guest speaker. Many people rejected messages from Jesus, the perfect speaker.

Above all, don’t build your spiritual life on events so much that one bad retreat can sour your life. Retreat is a bonus to enjoy, not a salary that sustains your life. Take it as a supplement, not your main meal.