Dwight A. Moody
"Every regional and national denominational gathering," I have said from the very first, "needs to have attached to it a festival for young preachers."
Why? because these denominational gatherings are too often a collection of grey headed men (mostly) with too few young faces; and many of these are long on reports and business and short on preaching. A festival of young preachers addresses both of these concerns and does so with an eye to the future.
My associates and I at the Academy of Preachers have sought to do this in our own network, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship...at both the state (Kentucky) and national levels. For instance, this year when we meet in Dallas for the General Assembly, 16 young preachers will stand and deliver their message inspired by one of the 20 texts associated with our 2015 theme HEAVEN & EARTH.
But now the United Methodists have embraced this vision and have done so in a way that will provide a model for all other groups.
On July 16-17, more than 100 young preachers of the Methodist tradition will gather in Leawood, Kansas (greater Kansas City) for the United Methodist Young Preachers Festival and Conference.
This promising event is the handiwork of Tyler Best, AoP '12, recent graduate of the University of Evansville. Tyler will begin his own seminary work this fall at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky.
Tyler first preached at an AoP-sponsored campus festival at the University of Evansville, then came to his first National Festival of Young Preachers in Louisville, Kentucky, in January of 2012. Inspired, he planned and lead a festival at his home church, Pfrimmer's Chapel UMC in Corydon, Indiana. Then he launched the annual festival of the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, which brought him to the attention of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. A written piece from their office caught the attention of Adam Hamilton at the Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City, which secured a large grant from the General Board and contracted with Tyler to help them design, promote, and manage their own festival this summer.
Nothing on the web site of this United Methodist event recognizes the Academy of Preachers as the origin and inspiration for their festival. This lack of kingdom sympathies contrasts sharply with our own attitude, which seeks to "identify, network, inspire, and support young people in the call to gospel preaching" regardless of who is doing it and why. In that spirit, the Academy of Preachers plans to attend this UMC Young Preachers Festival and Conference and promote it as a model for other denominations interested in the mission we share with Church of the Resurrection.
In addition, we will give each of the young Methodists preaching at the Kansas City event a copy of my just-published book, Nine Marks of a Good Sermon: A Guide for Young Preachers (Academy of Preachers Books, 2015). One of the nine Young Preachers with a sermon featured in this book is Michelle Rushing, AoP'13, who just graduated from the UMC-affiliated Perkins School of Theology in Dallas.
I encourage all Young Preachers, especially those associated with the Academy of Preachers, to make every effort to participate in this fresh expression of the movement of God that is raising up a new generation of gospel preachers. May the one good and gracious God bless Church of the Resurrection, Tyler Best, and the United Methodist Young Preachers Festival and Conference.
Call us at the Academy of Preachers (859-533-9929) and we will help you do what they (and we) are doing!!
I went to Rome last month (April 2015) and saw the Pope.
No, it was not a papal audience, as they call it, but with at least 50,000 of my closest friends I stood in Vatican Square and listened as Francis delivered his weekly homily. It was all in Italian (I presume) so I did not understand a word of it; neither did many other people standing for an hour under that warm Mediterranean sun.
Francis did not preach for an hour: only 15 minutes, and some of that was a series of greetings to special groups in the vast audience, school or church groups from different parts of the world, and they clapped and waved their brightly-colored banners when Francis named them and pronounced upon them a blessing.
Thousands of people, of course, did understand the sermon and clapped at appropriate times. I like it when people clap during a sermon; it is akin to the older tradition to saying "amen" when the preacher says something important, true, and powerful. Some sermons, including many I myself have preached, are therefore not "clap worthy;" they are predictable, safe, and rather dull. But not Francis. His sermons bloom from the only two seeds that really matter to the Christian preacher: the heart of the gospel and the hope of the people, which is why people pay attention to what he says.
It is amazing, is it not, that week after week, multiple thousands of people from all over the world gather in this Roman square, turn their heads towards the sixth floor window (second from the right), and strain their eyes to see the small figure who stands at the window with a microphone and speaks for a quarter hour. That is all that happens: no choirs, no liturgy, no testimonies, no production, no entertainment--just one man and the spoken word. It reminds us that when preachers have something to say that is rooted in gospel, responsive to what is going on in the world, and unencumbered by ambition, agenda, or anger, people will take notice, especially when the message is consistent with the public ministry of the preacher.
Yes, I stood in Vatican square and saw the Pope and listened to his sermon. But I also scanned the crowd of people, even spoke to those around me: from Spain, Austria, Germany, many Asian and African countries, and of course, the United States. He is a celebrity, all right, this Pope of Rome, and we were all there to attest to that. But he is also a preacher, and his pattern of preaching, both public and parish, is an inspiration for all who aspire to follow the call by which God has directed our lives: to preach the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ to the people of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight; and all have a right to hear the story of Jesus, whether it comes from a world-class celebrity like Pope Francis of Rome or some ordinary proclaimer like you or me.
I went to Rome last month and saw the Pope, and it has made me a better person and a more thankful preacher of the Christian gospel.
Five Young Preachers ranging in age from 13 to 34 proclaimed the gospel last Saturday during the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship's Spring Gathering in Danville, KY. The Lexington Ave. Baptist Church Chapel provided the perfect setting for preaching, pointers and a Festival of Young Preachers .
Young Preachers came from across the Commonwealth for the opportunity to lift their voices and receive insights. Mitchell Monroe, AoP’13, Campbellsville University, Jonathan Balmer, Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, and his brother Eric Balmer, Georgetown College, Jami Benning, AoP’14, University of the Cumberlands alumna, and her son David Benning, Home School 8th grader, all preached outstanding 15 minute sermons on the theme, “Heaven and Earth.”
Many thanks to sermon evaluators from BSK, Dr. Greg Earwood and Dr. Laura Levens who eagerly took notes to share with each Young Preacher. Thanks as well to Roger Jasper, AoP’10 and Derek Cain for graciously serving as Festival conveners.
This year another version of the feedback form was shared among the listeners to offer a “view from the pew.” As Monroe clutched his stack of responses he exclaimed, “This is gold to a Young Preacher.” The Academy of Preachers has learned a lot in the course of facilitating six + years of Festivals, and Monroe reflects the consensus, “the more feedback the better!”
Come join in the excitement at one of the Regional Festivals of Young Preachers and the National Festival of Young Preachers in Lexington on January 2-5, 2016. http://academyofpreachers.net/festivals/
(Dr. Moody is currently traveling.
Submitted by, Rev. Wyndee Holbrook, AoP Director of Programs)
Earth Day is coming up--Wednesday, April 23--and the Academy of Preachers is celebrating in a unique way.
AoP is hosting a two-hour launch of our 2015-2016 Festival preaching theme: HEAVEN & EARTH.
The theme will guide the preaching at all seven of the 2015 Festivals of Young Preachers: Wisconsin, Texas (2), Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Kansas (2) as well as the 2016 National Festival next January. Young Preachers are given 20 biblical texts, arranged in four groups: Creating Heaven & Earth, Receiving Heaven & Earth, Surviving Heaven & Earth, and Redeeming Heaven & Earth. The complete list of texts is found elsewhere on this web site.
The Earth Day launch includes a complimentary breakfast at the Lexington Hilton followed by a 50-minute presentation of the 2016 National Festival plans.
These plans include:
Attending are local pastors (focused on downtown Lexington), regional institutional leaders, donors, Young Preachers, musicians, and our AoP team.
One purpose of the event is to describe the different ways that organizations and institutions can invest in the AoP mission, like sponsoring Master Classes, plenary worship, preaching venues, sermon videos, and such. Another purpose is to inspire local pastors to invite an AoP Young Preacher to fill their Sunday morning pulpit on January 3, 2016. (We plan to send all festival participants--more than 200--to local churches that Sunday morning.)
But the overriding intent of our Earth Day launch of the 2016 Festival is to generate enthusiasm for the National Festival and describe ways the Festival can help congregations, denominations, and institutions fulfill their own mission.
Our mission is to "identify, network, support, and inspire young people in the call to gospel preaching." But along the way, old preachers like me (and perhaps you) will find our hearts "strangely warmed" by the substance and spirit of the gospel preaching we hear from these young people.
Put it on your calendar: January 2-5, 2016. Lexington, Kentucky. Heaven & Earth.
I never met the late Gardner C. Taylor. He preached for more than four decades in New York City to wide acclaim and profound effect.
It is a shame, my shame; because in my opportunities to invite pulpit guests (and I had many) he was never on the short list. He never got a call from me.
Furthermore, in none of the scores of pastors' and preachers' gathering I attended through my own 40-plus years of ministry, his name never appeared on the program. I repent of this; and lots of others need to repent.
So my confession even as the thousands of mourners and admirers find their way home from his memorial service is simply this: I never heard Dr. Taylor preach.
But (and this is a mighty important conjunction) I hear his voice, his echo, his word.
I hear it in the sermons of the young African American preachers who flock to our Festivals and stand to preach. They have heard Dr. Taylor or else they have heard those who did hear the great man. Which is why they come to preach: they want to sound like Gardner Taylor, and stand like Gardner Taylor, and preach like Gardner Taylor--often without knowing the true image of their great ministerial ideal.
No, these Young Preachers don't say "I want to preach like Gardner Taylor," not in so many words. But preachers like Gardner Taylor have created the preaching environment into which these talented young people are born, by which these dedicated young preachers are discipled, for which these inspirational young adults are destined.
Which is why these young preachers speak with such skill, passion, and clarity; which is why they make the Word dance and the gospel sing; which is why, when they take a text (as they say), they capture the attention of all the other people at the Festival (including me) and make us which wish we could preach like they do...or, like Gardner Taylor does.
I never heard Dr. Taylor preach, but every year when we gather for the National Festival of Young Preachers (next January in Lexington) echoes of that great man of God, now gathered to his people, reverberate through every preaching hall and from every pulpit. Taylor's voice--for truth, for justice, for love, for courage, for gospel--has found its way, through a thousand intermediaries, into the minds and imaginations of a new generation of talented, dedicated young preachers. All the rest of us can say, while still in the shadow of the great man's passing: Glory to God, Glory to God.
Dwight A. Moody
April 14, 2015
Beginning today, the Academy of Preachers officially has a new address: 500 North Watterson Trail, Louisville, Kentucky, 40243.
Write us a letter: offer congratulations, make a contribution, send the name of a young preacher, volunteer to help with the Festival of Young Preachers, write a prayer.
Our address is also the address of Middletown Christian Church, our new sponsoring partner. The church has given us prime space on their campus: a splendid room with glass wall facing the administrative offices and an opposite glass wall looking out over the almost-enclosed mall of grass. It is perfect in all respects.
The phone number is 502-245-9793, extension 123. Call it today and ask for the Executive Director. His name is Lee Huckleberry. Yes, yesterday was Lee's last day as Senior Consultant. For two years he has been working hard developing and serving the Academy for a small monthly stipend. Today he begins his career as the second employee of the Academy. He will manage the office, oversee the finances, handle all correspondence, and plan meetings and events.
Which means that I must take a new title.....President. This title corresponds to my more focused role: writing and speaking on behalf of young preachers; developing partnerships with businesses, congregations, denominations, organizations, and institutions; meeting with donors: individuals, corporations, and foundations; and envisioning what the future of the Academy of Preachers might look like.
In the coming months, the Academy of Preachers will incorporate, write by-laws, recruit a national board of directors, file for non-profit, tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service, and launch our own endowment.
The future is promising for the Academy of Preachers. Today is a giant step forward into that future. We thank you and we give glory to God.
And did I say: today is also the second birthday of my one and only grandchild, Sam (new picture up on my Facebook page) and also the 38th anniversary of my marriage to Jan (on a beautiful Saturday morning in the courtyard of Mt. Horeb Presbyterian Church on Iron Works Pike, with service performed by Rev. Walter Price). It is a very good day, indeed.
During the course of a three-day weekend, June 25-27, 2010, the Academy of Preachers received donations totaling $57,000. Even we were surprised!
Most of the activity surrounded an event held in the home of Dan and Anne Greenwell. They serve on the Academy Support Team at Middletown Christian Church, which sponsored the event. Some 30 people attended this event and most made either a contribution or a pledge.
Included at the event were two young preachers, Alex Williams and Katie Beachy, both of whom spoke about their experiences at with the Academy (and the Festival of Young Preachers and the Preaching Camp). Also in attendance were Academy personnel, Lee Huckleberry (soon to be the Executive Director) and myself (Dwight A. Moody). Middletown pastor David Emery was also present.
The successful fund-raising weekend brings the total money raised during this Spring 2010 effort to more than $68,000, which exceeds our three-month goal of $50,000 and puts us a good way toward our 18-month goal of $200,000. And we still have two days remaining in June! Who knows what might happen in these two days.
The Academy raises money to underwrite our programs for young preachers: the festival of young preachers, our preaching camps, and the Young Preachers Leadership Team. Basic administrative and personnel costs of the Academy are covered, in these first years, through a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment.
The second national Festival of Young Preachers will be held January 6-8, 2011, at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel and the adjacent Cathedral of the Assumption, both in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. All registration forms are elsewhere on this web site. Registrations are now being received for the conference and housing.
All gifts to the Academy are tax deductable through our hosting partnership with Middletown Christian Church. Donations can be sent to Academy of Preachers, 500 North Watterson Trail, Louisville, Kentucky 40243.
The antidote to the aging, declining, eroding, lackluster church in the United States is to infuse it with more young people. That is the philosophy of the Academy of Preachers.
"They must learn to wait their turn," one pastor told me. It is probably the most remarkable and retrograde statement made to me in my two year advocacy of young preachers.
Actually my promotion of young preachers began long ago, intensified during my 11-year tenure as dean of the chapel at Georgetown College, and came to full fruition in my work launching the Academy of Preachers. Our goal is to give young preachers an opportunity, to open doors, to introduce them to people who can help them.
All denominational gatherings need to embrace the value of young preachers; so here my challenge to denominational organizers: make a place for young preachers on every assembly, every convention, every conference. Religious meetings are, left to right, liberal to conservative, dominated by grey hair men talking to more grey hair men. I know: I am one of them. I have met the enemy, as they say, and it is me!
Make way for young preachers. They are good. They are full of the spirit. They are not tainted by weariness in ministry; they are not burnt out in church life; they have not lost their utter abandonment to the gospel of Jesus Christ; they do not weigh every vocational decision by what effect it might have on their annuity; they are lusting for power or position. All they want is an opportunity to bear witness to Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
That National Conference on Preaching, the Hampton Ministers Conference, and the Festival of Homiletics: these lead the way in reaching preachers with inspiration and instruction. I call upon those who plan these programs: create a track for young preachers. It will inspire all of us old people; it will make us willing to share our energy, our opportunities, even our honors and our income to support these young preachers.
"Let no one despise you because of your youth." That is the word of God for us today.
Sometime this past January the Living Faith Baptist Church began a pastoral search process that is sure to commend itself to many congregations. They went online to the Academy site on YouTube and watched a series of videos taken at the inaugural Festival of Young Preachers in January of 2010.
There are 92 of these videos on YouTube and I have watched every one of them. Some are very good; most are good; a few are mediocre. Some of the young preachers prepared better than others!
After watching a series of the sermon videos, a member of the church search committee called me and said, "We have found one of these young preachers we like. Can you give us a recommendation?"
Indeed, I could, and did; and the church interviewed him, and went to hear him preach in person, and invited him to their church to preach in view of a call; which he did; and two weeks later they voted to call him as pastor. I rejoice with him and am grateful our festival videos played a small role in the successful search of this congregation.
I predict this will become the norm. Already, many churches request a video from an aspiring preacher or pastor. But at the Academy site a committee can view many of these videos easily, quickly, and without complications. Perhaps other churches have already done this because the festival sermon videos have been viewed more than 10,200 times!! This is 17 times as many people as registered for the festival!
Young preachers seeking a place to serve would do well to register for the 2011 festival, scheduled for January 6-8, in Louisville, Kentucky. You will get a wide hearing and you never know who will see your sermon video and give you a call.
Church and denominations seeking to recruit and call young ministers would do well to attend the festival in January; but if that is not possible, log on to this web site and watch all of it streamed live; and if that is not possible, go to our YouTube site and sit for an hour or two watching sermon videos. You just might see the young man or woman that is perfect for your congregation! It is the wave of the future.
Oh, by the way, his name: Roger Jasper!
For 18 months, the Academy of Preachers sought to recruit 50 Founding Partners. This was an effort to secure the endorsement and cooperation of established and recognized organizations and institutions.
That effort was successfully concluded on March 30, 2010, when a letter of partnership was received from Harvard Divinity School.
Now the search is under way to expand that network of support. The Academy is seeking what we are calling National Partners. While our first effort focused upon the region inclusive of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee (and 36 of the Founding Partners are from that designated region) we are now expanding our appeal to businesses, congregations, denominations, organizations, and institutions nationwide. And I am glad to report that we have our first National Partner.
The Volunteers of America, Southeast, with headquarters in Mobile, Alabama has submitted a letter of partnership. They heard about our work through a Kentucky-native, Alabama-resident preacher Terry Ellis.
"Volunteers of America is a church," explained CEO Wallace T. Davis, "but not the sort of church you think of when you hear that word. We have a remarkable web of ministries, some of which are well-known in communities around the country. But we do have network of preachers, as well, and we want to get them involved in the Academy of Preachers."
We have discussed with Davis and his staff the possibility of the VOA hosting their own internal festival of young preachers; and of course, we are eager for our young preachers to learn more about the varied ministries of the Volunteers of America.
We welcome National Partners such as the Volunteers of America. Their interest illustrates the wide varied of organizations that take serious the role of preaching in Christian mission and ministry. We look forward to collaboration with many more such partners.