Outside Speakers & Open Topics
Have you or your church ever invited an "outside" or guest speaker to minister at your church, organisation or group? Have you given the speaker an open topic?
There is always the possibility that your audience may "switch off" when listening to a familiar speaker. An outside speaker does not face this problem.
This is on the assumption that the guest speaker has the necessary expertise on the topic to be addressed.
Why Give An Open Topic?
Let's relate this to the reasons for inviting an outside speaker. Both (1) and (2) imply that you have a specific topic in mind; only (3) gives room for an open topic.
What are some possible reasons for giving an open topic to an invited speaker? I could only think of one ... granting convenience to the speaker. The speaker could speak on a topic that he had delivered before or on his favourite topic. Can this be a valid reason? I don't think so.
Don't go for a popular speaker and give the speaker the freedom to speak on whatever topic because the chosen topic may not be relevant to your congregation. Giving an open topic reflects your purpose ... to merely fill up a speaking schedule ... just come, any topic will do!
Tips on Inviting An Outside Speaker
What would you want God to do in and through your church? Invite a speaker who can help motivate your congregation to achieve the mission and vision of your church.
Your congregation has specific needs and faces particular challenges. Do you know what they are? Invite a speaker who can minister to these needs and give practical steps to meet those challenges.
Discuss among your team who are the possible speakers for (1) and (2). The "right" speaker is one who not only knows the topic well but also knows how to communicate it to others.
Contact a possible speaker and share (1) and (2) and ask if he/she can speak on these. If not, ask for a recommendation and move on to the next possible speaker.
If the person responds in the affirmative, ask for specifics. If you are satisfied with the specifics then invite the person. Provide date, time and place of the engagement; however, be flexible in your schedule to accommodate the speaker's other commitments.
Follow up with an email or letter confirming the invitation and outlining the key points you would like to be covered in the message. Provide additional information such as travel instructions, dress code (if any) and logistic support. Ask for a brief bio that will be used in the introduction. Assure the speaker of your prayers.