Rationale for a Teaching TeamAlmost every Senior Pastor holds the responsibility of the 'platform', whatever they call it (pulpit, stage, etc.). Every pastor I know treats this honor like it is the greatest of privileges - because it is!
Some people think that teaching pastors keep a tight reign on the platform because of his ego, and I supposed there are a few who think they are God's only gifted communicator. Mostly, though, teaching pastors feel that a great trust has been given to them. Think about it: every week, scores, hundreds, even thousands of people come to a given local church. They come to encounter God through worship, to ask their spiritual questions, and, yes, many of them come to hear the teaching pastor communicate spiritual truth. Most innovative churches wouldn't have strong attendance or healthy growth without a good communicator (a lot could be said to define what it means to be a 'good communicator', but that's for another conversation).
All of that is to say that the person who holds the teaching platform does so 'in trust'. We don't just let anyone speak. We want to be sure of a few things:
1) The person speaking will do their work. Most of us do not speak extemporaneously. We don't just wing it. We prepare. We study. We write. We ball up the bad stuff, toss it in the can and start over, we work and re-work and re-work again. We come prepared. And we want to know that the person standing in for us will also come prepared.
2) The person speaking will look to God. After all, we are trying to be a conduit of sorts. We want to know that the person speaking in our stead will seek out God's voice, hear his words, and relay them accurately.
3) The person speaking will not make a mess. This is what I call the 'lowest common denominator'. Above all else, no matter what, the primary communicator does not want to come back from a break or vacation to find that the guest speaker ran people off, sparked a needless controversy or made a mess that has to be cleaned up. In fact, this is one of the main reasons that teaching pastors are so protective of the platform - the horror stories abound. The main issue here is TRUST. Once a group of people have come to know me and trust me, I can say things that others cannot say. I used to think it was the other way around - that you brought in guest speakers to say what you cannot say. I've come to realize that this is backward thinking that is dysfunctional and somewhat cowardly. Our core value of authenticity would dictate that the better you know me, the more I have the trust foundation and, indeed, the responsibility to speak the haredest truths, not run from them.
Selecting a Teaching Team
There are many people who are or could be good public speakers. Others are well versed in the Bible. Others still have a history that would help them connect with a certain segment of the folks who come. But what I was looking for were people who contained within them a certain set of characteristics:
1) Are they coachable? It didn't matter to me if they were Rob Bell or Billy Graham. If they weren't coachable, then it's not workable. Their spirit has to have a willingness and excitement about learning from me.
2) Do they have an indication of giftedness? Most people can learn the mechanics, but for a teaching team, you need folks who have gifts in communicating with people. They don't have to be fully developed gifts, but they have to be there.
3) Do they 'get' PCC? There are many people who fit 1 & 2 above who don't really understand what we are trying to do at PCC.
4) Are they willing and available? I brought this team in for weeks before they started speaking. They prepared a mock message for me, based on a scripture I gave them (and it was a VERY hard scripture). They had to come and 'deliver' that message in front of the other 5 members on the team and get critiqued by all of us. We had training times when we watched other great communicators, heard teachings about preaching. I had them read material. And, for the past few weeks, they've been gathering every week (some with me and some without me) and delivering the following week's message to each other, and then assessing, making suggestions, and coaching each other. All of this takes a LOT of time an energy. I needed people who would make the commitment and could keep it.
The Teaching Team at PCC
I will continue to be the primary teaching pastor. That is my calling and I believe that's where I'm supposed to be. But there are five others on the team:
(pictures are in that order)
You will notice that the last Sunday in this series (July 31), Angie Frame will give us a GREAT message, too. Very occasionally, someone not on this team will teach instead of me. But mostly, when I'm absent or not on the stage, it will be on one of these five.
Pastors, I hope you will begin to develop a teaching team. Getting away would not be possible for me if I didn't have these great folks working with me.