Here is an idea for the fall: host a festival of young preachers on your campus! It is an excellent way to showcase and encourage the young preachers in your student body; but it also is a wonderful way to recruit students to your school as well as stay in touch with recent graduates. And it costs very little!
Morehouse College pioneered this idea last fall. They held 2 preaching events to stir up interest in the national Festival of Young Preachers held this past January in Louisville KY. From those that preached, the chapel staff selected 4 to represent their school at the festival.
The Academy of Preachers will be glad to assist any school who wishes to host such an event. We will provide our sponsorship and any art work you may need to promote a campus festival. In exchange for our collaboration, we ask schools to become a Partner with the Academy and adopt our festival format, namely:
* include only persons 16-28 years of age,
* adopt the 2011 festival preaching theme (Ten Commandments),
* allow 16 minutes for each sermon,
* require a church sponsorship of each preacher,
* insist that a preaching mentor introduce the young preacher, and
* collect a digital copy of each sermon prior to its being preached.
Many schools will find donors eager to underwrite such an event. Many ministers, congregations, and lay people long for a renewed emphasis on preaching, especially if it attracts into the preaching ministry more talented young preachers. Schools may find donors ready to cover the cost of a campus preaching festival plus provide travel scholarships for the best of the bunch to be sent to the national festival next January.
Within the last 8 days I have talked with interested schools in Texas, Indiana, Missouri, and Georgia. I suspect that next fall we may see as many as a dozen campus festivals held around the country. Call me and let's talk.
Planners for the next Festival of Young Preachers are looking for 6 institutions that teach preaching to participate in a pilot project. The Festival is scheduled for January 6-8, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky.
This year the festival drew more than 600 people including 92 young preachers from 41 institutions in 21 states. Next year we expect more young preachers, better preaching, and an explosion of inspiration.
The pilot project will involve schools that build the festival into a course. The festival can be either the culmination of a fall 2010 course, the launch of a 2011 course, or the central feature of a short-term January course.
Campbellsville University pioneered this idea for the inaugural festival this past January. Professor Scott Wiggington allowed his fall 2009 undergraduate students to preach in the festival as an extra-credit project. Five of his students did exactly that: Sean Stengl, Micah Spicer, Josh Hardesty, Andre Morton, and Willis Deitz.
We want to expand this idea to include at least 6 schools: bible colleges, liberal arts colleges, universities, and seminaries. Financial considerations are being developed to encourage schools to participate. Among those considering this opportunity are Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, Belmont University, Harvard Divinity School, and Morehouse College.
Schools who wish to participate will be given up to 6 reserved preaching slots at the 2011 festival. We expect registration for the next festival, January 6-8, 2011, to be completed much earlier than this first year, when we were accommodating young preachers through the end of December.