During 10 years of pastoral ministry I would often get emails or letters from itinerant speakers I’d never heard of asking if they could come and speak at my church. These emails usually were deleted straight away. In 2014 I became a full time itinerant speaker and was suddenly faced with the realisation that I was now on the other side of the fence and began to worry how on earth I would get speaking invites if most pastors ignored random requests to host speakers.
God has been so faithful and I have now preached 47 weeks of the week for the past 3 years straight with bookings already in the pipeline for year 4. Here are some important and practical tips I have learned for those in itinerant ministry wanting to get bookings in churches.
- There is no such thing as “itinerant ministry” in the New Testament!
What there is, is a five-fold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher, some of whom work better in a wider setting than a local church. What you have to be really clear on before you start is “what is my ministry?” Churches do not need another speaker, worship leader or someone to do a meeting for them. They have all that anyway. What they do want however is someone to bring a ministry into their church that they are lacking or a particular anointing to add to what is already there. So you have to be really clear, “this is my ministry, this is my purpose, this is the anointing and call that I carry…can this be of help to your church?” Be clear in your mind what your gifting is and make that clear to churches.
- Remember it is an honour and privilege to be asked to minister in a church.
None of us are entitled to a platform. None of are God’s solution to a local church. You are there to serve the local church and its vision not your own. Remain humble. Remain submissive. Remain honouring. If you contact 10 churches, and 1 says yes, be grateful over that 1, don’t become bitter over the 9.
- Be part of a local church and have a history of serving there.
One of the first things I would ask any itinerant speaker is “which church do you go to and how long have you been there?” There are too many itinerant speakers who want to speak in other people’s churches but have never done anything in their local church. Other itinerant speakers have attended 5 churches in the past 2 years. A good pastor is very unlikely to ask someone to speak with this kind of track record. The 13 years I spent serving in one local church has given such weight to my itinerant ministry. Some of those years I was very frustrated but looking back I now realise the incredible testimony that it is to churches that I speak at. The best thing anybody called to an itinerant ministry could do is join a local church and join the youth team or kids ministry and stay in that role for 7 years. Most people won’t do that because of the “I want it all now” culture we are in but trust me, your itinerant ministry will be much more powerful and ground in reality if you have a long term commitment to a local church.
- It’s all about relationship
Cold calls or cold emails or random facebook messages asking for a speaking date are incredibly unlikely to result in any open doors. Network. Conference. Lunch. Coffee. Don’t be like the evangelist I met who said he never met any pastors but just stayed in his room praying for God to open doors. God will speak your name to people but they must know your face in order for them to know who God is talking about!
- Keep a purity in your relationships
Some people only network because they want a platform. This is fake and pastors can spot it a mile off. Some pastors I connect with have never invited me to speak at their churches and that’s fine. I network because I value relationship. The by-product of relationship is some open doors but not with everyone. And that’s ok! Be genuine. And maintain relationship with the pastors you connect with. If they only hear from you once a year when you want a speaking invite it will quickly become tiresome to them.
- Big doors turn on small hinges
Say yes to a lot even to things that don’t seem that exciting. Small opportunities can turn into something significant. That 5 minute youth talk could get the attention of a senior pastor. So embrace the small opportunities and do them well and with passion.
- Promotion – do it!
Jesus didn’t have a website…but you are not more holy because you don’t!
Promote. But do it well! Spend money if you have to. No website is better than a rubbish one. In your publicity don’t use buzz words “a cutting edge prophetic anointing” etc. – it turns people off (more so in the UK than USA – us Brits hate flash!) and so does going overboard “preaches to tens of thousands around the world” etc when you haven’t. Exaggeration and grandiose statements will not impress anyone. Be down to earth and humble and real.
- Make a mental note of the people who have said they would have you speak and follow them up. That means the moment they mention it take their contact details! Your itinerary is not as important to them as it is to you. It’s unlikely they will call you, you have to call them. You have to suggest dates and take the initiative.
- Never aggressively push yourself on a church
“When are you going to have me speak?” to someone you met 5 minutes ago isn’t going to work. “You NEED me to come do a meeting at your church” – no they don’t! In my experience it’s better for them to make the initial suggestion that you come and speak and not you.
- You need an apostle
John Morgan (former regional leader for Assemblies of God), Cleddie Keith (pastor to pastor in USA). Jarrod Cooper (apostolic leader who’s church I am apart of) – they are all apostles who have opened many doors in my ministry. Apostles are keys that open doors. You need to be in relationship with apostolic leaders (leaders who lead leaders) or be part of an apostolic church (one that has a regional and not just local vision). At the very least you need to be mentored by someone who has been doing what you are called to do for longer. Many people are praying for God to open doors, but are not being mentored or in relationship with an apostle or experienced leader. Apostles will open doors for you and give a weight and authority to what you are doing.
- Fruit speaks
Tell the God-stories of what He is doing through you.
At the start of your ministry you may have to tell people about what you do, but before long the fruit will start to speak for you. Fruit has a language of its own and is far more powerful than any business card!
- The favour factor
At the end of the day God’s favour is either on what you are doing or it isn’t. You can’t earn or manipulate favour. You’ve just got to stay close to Jesus and live a life pursuing His presence, a life of surrender and a life of holiness. Watch what God will do! If you are trying too hard to force something, you have moved out of the grace zone and are maybe doing something that God hasn’t called you to
- A rejection of your ministry doesn’t mean a rejection of you
Sometimes people would love to have you speak at their church but the timing isn’t right (they are fully booked, finances are tight etc.) Sometimes your ministry isn’t the “right fit” for a particular church. Don’t be bitter about it. Maintain relationship and be full of grace. Know that God has called you and He sees and knows what you are doing. He knows how and when to hide and to promote.