When I’m invited to preach at a church I’ve never been to, I want to gather information that will guide me in the ministry of pulpit supply. Here are the questions I ask:
- How did you get my name? (Probably through the seminary, but it’s good to ask.)
- What time does worship begin? When does it usually end?
- What style of worship does the church employ? For example, is the music all hymns, all praise choruses, a mix of both? What sort of instrumentation accompanies the music?
- Who will be writing the order of worship? (If not me) May I request or recommend certain hymns, praise songs, scripture selections, creeds? Will someone e-mail me a copy of it before that Sunday?
- Who will lead worship? (If not me) Will they introduce me, or will I simply begin preaching?
- What pastor, deacon, elder or other leader will be present that Sunday? Will you arrange for them to meet me before the worship service? (I like to know someone that I can refer to within the congregation.)
- Is there a nursery provided for small children?
- May I have the street address of the church? And will someone e-mail me directions to the church?
- Tell me about the denomination (if it is one I’m unfamiliar with).
- Tell me about the church. Who is the pastor? How long has he been there? How long has the church been around? What have been some recent items of rejoicing in the church? What have been some recent struggles?
That pretty much covers the conversations I have with whoever calls. I often feel like they are surprised that I have so many questions– maybe they haven’t had many folks ask questions like these when invited for pulpit supply. But I’ve found that it is important to get this kind of information. You will appreciate it, too, once you have it.
Ed Eubanks is a contributing writer for Seminary Survival Guide.