By Bruce Templeton
(From our series “The Best or Worst Advice I’ve Ever Received.”)
The worst advice I ever received was from an elder who knew a lot about running a bank, but very little about leading a church. I was “young and dumb,” but I loved the church and was willing to listen to any advice I could get! I was serving a church coming off its best year in the last 25: more baptisms, greater attendance, and a greater spirit of excitement and joy.
He believed the real way to build a church was to visit people who never had any intention of going to church. He said, “Bruce, you’re a great preacher, but preaching is the least important aspect of your ministry. You need to visit more, and spend less time on your sermon preparation.”
Contrast that with a little card I got from my four-year-old nephew years later. It contained the best advice I’ve every received, the picture of a stick man in a suit, with his hand held high, holding a Bible, saying, “Preach the Word, Brother. Put it high where men can see it, put it low where men can reach it, but preach it, Brother, preacher it!
“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).
Bruce Templeton is senior consultant with The Giving Church; he retired after more than 25 years of ministry with First Christian Church, Huntington Beach, California.