Finding a Christian Speaker
Finding a Christian speaker for your event can be a daunting task. A quick search on the internet will generate several thousand pages of possibilities, but how do you narrow down that list to a manageable size?
Begin with your budget in mind
The first thing to do when trying to find a Christian speaker is to get some idea what your budget is. Getting a gifted speaker shouldn’t be a financial burden to your ministry, but you shouldn’t expect them to do the job for nothing, either. It’s not uncommon for churches to think they should be able to get a professional speaker to their event for next to nothing because “it’s ministry.” Others think that they should be able to get a Christian speaker cheaply because “they’re only speaking for 30 minutes three times…why should I have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for an hour and a half of work?”
There are two things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about what a Christian speaker will cost:
1. While Christian speaking is ministry – and most professional Christian speakers think of it in precisely this way – it is also how they make their living. To be available to fly around the country or around the world on weekends and, often, during the week, these individuals can’t work a regular job. So, while they consider speaking a ministry, they also have to make a living doing it. Remember the Apostle Paul’s instruction: For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:18).
2. You can’t think about a speaker’s honorariums as an hourly wage. Yes, you’re paying them for 3 or 4 talks of a fairly short length each, but you’re also paying them to be at your event which means time away from family and time away from other sources of needed income. Think about it this way: if you pay a speaker a $1500 honorarium for 3 talks of 30 minutes each, that would be $500 per talk…pretty good wages! But wait: the speaker had to leave home at 8:30 am to catch the plane to your city, then drive to the event location, meet people at the event, speak, hang out between sessions, etc. By the time the weekend is over, the speaker has essentially been “on the clock” for maybe 40 hours. That’s only $37.50 per hour. Still not a bad wage, but remember, speaking isn’t like working at most jobs. Most speaking engagements only happen on the weekends, so during the week, professional Christian speakers often have no income at all. And, even the most popular Christian speakers may only get 2 or 3 bookings a month, so the honorariums they get paid for their weekend engagements have to go pretty far!
So, what’s an average cost for a professional Christian speaker? There may not be any such thing. The cost depends on many factors including the speaker’s popularity, experience, etc.
Our advice is to look for a speaker with a sliding scale for honorariums. What this means is that the speaker doesn’t have rigid pre-set fees but works with the event organizers to find an agreeable rate. At Shepherd Project, our speaker fees vary depending on: how many people will be at the event, whether or not attendees are being charged for the event, what the purpose of the event is, et.al. For evangelistic events where no one is being charged to attend, our rates are lower than for huge conferences where thousands of attendees are being charged hundreds of dollars each to attend. Typically, our speaker honorariums run from $800 to $2000 (including travel costs) for weekend events.
As you think about speaker honorariums, keep in mind that some speakers include their travel costs in the honorarium and others tack those costs on top of the honorarium. Make sure you find out which it is. At Shepherd Project we always quote all-inclusive deals that have already accounted for travel costs so you don’t have any unexpected fees to pay later.
What kind of speaker do you want?
The second thing to do when trying to find a Christian speaker is to decide what you’re looking for. Most Christian speakers fall into two broad categories: equipping and inspiring. Christian speakers who fit into the “inspiring” category will generally be fun and encouraging to listen to, but relatively short on biblical content. Christian speakers who fit into the “equipping” category will generally have more in-depth teaching from the Bible. Of course, there’s no reason why a Christian speaker can’t both equip and inspire audiences, but the unfortunate truth is that this combination of gifts is rare. They’re out there, but they’re not common…and they’re not necessarily cheap.
As with so many things in life, you may have to strike a balance. When it comes to booking a Christian speaker, you will often juggle three things: ability to engage, ability to equip and cost. You can get someone who isn’t very engaging but is a solid teacher for relatively little money. You can also get someone who is engaging but relatively shallow without spending much. To get someone who is able to engage audiences and then give them life-changing teaching, you’re going to have to pay a professional-level fee (though this shouldn’t be a burden; see above).
Since you’re hiring a Christian speaker to teach at your event (even if you’re mostly looking for an inspirational message), it’s crucial that you know if their beliefs fit with your group’s. Hiring a supposedly Christian speaker who doesn’t believe in the inerrancy of the Bible to speak at an evangelical church will be a disaster, and hiring a conservative Bible teacher for a very liberal denomination can be equally unpleasant. Check any potential speaker’s statement of faith, which should be located on their website. Ask follow-up questions to make sure their doctrinal position won’t be a point of conflict at your event.
Ideally, you should watch a video or listen to an audio recording of a speaker you’re interested in. Even better, request a DVD or CD that your planning team can all watch. Beware of speakers who have no such material available. This is often a signal that the speaker is relatively inexperienced. There’s nothing wrong with being inexperienced, of course. Everyone has to start somewhere, but a new speaker should have lower rates.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a Christian speaker is whether or not you need any additional assistance in planning your event that they can help you with. For instance, at Shepherd Project, we often provide graphics, videos and other materials to help planners promote their events. Full-color posters, postcards, professional video teasers, etc. are all available for little or no cost. We want your event to be a blessing to as many people as possible and we’re always happy to do what we can to get the word out.
If you have more questions about finding a great Christian speaker for your event, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com or call 1.800.253.1869.
Looking for a great Christian speaker? May we suggest:
Craig speaks to thousands of people around the world every year at everything from Jr. High retreats to Bible conferences. He’s a respected Christian pastor, teacher and author. Find out more here!