February 28, 2014
By Dwight Moody
I have just returned from two splendid days in Baltimore-Washington-Virginia. I stayed overnight with old friends, had lunch with a former student, introduced myself and AoP to a series of potential new Partners (Leland Center for Theology, Washington Baptist University, National Cathedral, Howard School of Divinity, and Baptist World Alliance), visited a high-tech, entrepreneurial incubation center and walked through the 125th anniversary display of the National Geographic Association. It was all terrific, and it reminds me how good it is to get out of the office away from our home turf and visit the people and places that can take the Academy of Preachers to the next level.
On the Southwest flight from Louisville to Baltimore I read two things. First, I read through “Cornerstone” magazine. The masthead describes it this way: “A Christian Journal of Literary Arts at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design.” It is designed, managed, written, edited, published, and distributed by students. It is one of several such Christian student publications in New England in which we advertise (especially our series of New England Festivals of Young Preachers, to begin this fall at Harvard Divinity School in Boston).
Amidst the poetry, photographs, essays, and such was this first person account of “How Deactivating Facebook over the Summer Changed my Life” by Elizabeth Jean-Marie. In that testimonial she wrote: “On fourth of July weekend I went to New York to visit my cousins and we went to church that Saturday. The worship service was touching, and the sermon was electrifying.” The footnote identifies the church as a Seventh Day Adventist, which explains the Saturday service.
Electrifying? When was the last time a college student described a sermon they heard in a strange place during the summer as electrifying?
On page 14 of the journal student Ningfei Ou wrote to describe a pictorial of old pictures of life in the church in China: “By the grace of God my great grandfather heard the message of the Gospel through a preacher passing through his village–the same grace that miraculously saved the life of my left-for-dead grandpa.” The photos showed benches used by young seminary students of an underground school and also the stools used by elderly women who come and pray, kneeling for hours in an “unending chain of prayer.”
Of course, in both of these narratives I was struck by the reference to preachers and preaching. I noted again the pivotal role played by these unnamed public speakers of the gospel. Neither preacher had any idea, in all likelihood, of the inspiration of their voice and impact of their message.
Then, halfway through my flight to the Baltimore-DC airport, I picked up the little book by the Nazarene preacher and university president (Trevecca) Dan Boone, “The Lord’s Prayer: Imagine It Answered.” Boone was the opening plenary preacher of our 2013 National Festival of Young Preachers in Atlanta.
This little book demonstrates again why our young preachers consider him among the very best they have heard. It is lively, spiritual, imaginative, and full of appeal. It takes as its gospel springboard the words of Jesus that stand at the very center of Christian life and worship.
“People write lots of opinion checks and forge them with God’s name,” he wrote. “This profanes the name of God.” This illustrates wonderfully the use of imagination in preaching, especially unforgettable metaphors. He did it again when speaking about forgiveness: “We no long hold this person in our mental jail, waiting to appear in our court of judgment.” In that same sermon he describes the behavior of Simon Peter, the disciple of Jesus: “Finally, Peter crawls under his nickname.”
Boone quotes the traditional call to pray the Lord’s Prayer: “Let us be ever so bold as to pray…Our Father.” Then asks: “Have you ever thought of yourself as needing boldness to pray the Lord’s Prayer?” And on the opposite end of the cultural spectrum, he uses the movie “What About Bob” and the differences between the two characters, Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfus) and Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) to explicate the meaning of the prayer petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Of course, these rhetorical elements made more compelling Boone’s appeal to all of us to live according to the Lord’s Prayer and not just pray the prayer when it occurs in the liturgy. It is a good book for people of faith and even for those of no faith; and it is an excellent book for preachers, providing a model for how to craft sermons that are effective and memorable.
So it was a good trip to Baltimore and Washington DC, and I am eager to plan a return: especially after I received two social media messages on my flight home from people there who wish to connect with me and the AoP. I’m ready to go!
February 24, 2014
By Erica Evans Whitaker
Growing up with a horrible speech impediment I never dreamed I would ever stand in a pulpit, publicly delivering a message from God. And yet, this is my calling. By divine grace, my speech along with a deep seeded fear of public speaking has diminished only rising periodically to the surface to humble me. My call to preach lay dormant in the closet of my subconscious waiting for the opportune time to come out.
This moment occurred in my first Truett Theological Seminary class, Preaching 1 taught by the distinguished (and in my case the intimidating) Dr. Joel Gregory. I sweated anxiously in every class period knowing that the end of the semester would come and I would be forced to preach to my peers and professor. That morning did eventually come. With my pits stained with sweat and my loving, supportive father in the small preaching chapel cheering me on with a big grin on his face, I preached.
There is a rush, a preacher’s high, in a sense, that sends adrenalin through my veins for those brief moments in the pulpit. Time stands still, and yet I can hear words coming out of my mouth that are not quite my own. Ironically, as a preacher I cannot fully put this experience into words. The act of preaching for me is another divine mystery.
As a young preacher who has really only been preaching for about four years, I have so much more to learn about this holy crafting of spoken words. My preaching journey has been molded and shaped by loving professors at Truett, supportive parents, and a loving husband. My husband, Josh, has no idea what to do with this fiery, red headed preacher and yet is always willing to give much needed words of encouragement after every sermon.
My mother, although she never realized it, was my first inspiration in preaching. Her creative storytelling and vivid imagination secretly implanted my calling to preach at young age. During my sermon preparations I always find myself asking, “How would my mother tell this story?”
Truett Seminary lit the fire beneath my calling and ignited me forward into my preaching journey. I was introduced to the Festival of Young Preachers through Dr. Hulitt Gloer who saw more in my preaching than I will ever see.
Previously, I enjoyed opportunities to preach at Truett’s Campus Festivals and the 2012 Texas Regional Festival of Young Preachers. But in January 2014 I had the opportunity, by means of a gracious scholarship from Truett, to go to my first National Festival of Young Preachers in Indianapolis. This three day experience has not only transformed the way I preach but has opened my eyes to different styles and methods of preaching from listening to my own peers from across the United States. I got to hear the voices of my generation crying out with Truth from the pulpits of different denominations and cultures.
The Festival of Young Preachers poured the gasoline on the fire that burns with my bones as a Young Preacher. Now, as a 2014 Gospel Catalyst, I’m excited to help ignite these flames in the hearts of others.
February 21, 2014
By Joshua Barrett, AoP'13
That is your fair warning. When you attend the Texas Regional Festival of Young Preachers – or any Festival for that matter – your preaching will be influenced. Someone will preach something that sparks something in you – an illustration, a refrain, a style, an intro, a closing – that you will take with you and blend with the way God has gifted you to preach. It is not a possibility, it is a fact – you can bank on it.
We all have people in our lives that we just like to be around. They refresh us by their very being. They do not have to do anything directly for us – though they usually do – yet their witness lifts us for when we depart. They enable us to be in a way we otherwise would not. We leave their presence better than we came.
The Texas Regional Festival is that kind of person. All of the preachers, all of the styles, all of the energy, combined with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit affects everyone involved. And it affects you whether you want it to or not. Trust me though, you do. It is like osmosis. No one could say anything to you (but they will), no one could give you any helpful feedback (but they will), no one could encourage you (but they will), no one could pray for you (but they will), no one could do any of that, but you would walk in a certain preacher and leave a better preacher. It just happens.
I cannot recommend this Festival enough. Come to Abilene and experience better preaching by osmosis. Come share your contribution to the osmosis. Help us be better preachers, and maybe learn a thing or two yourself. Join in fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. www.academyofpreachers.net/texas
February 19, 2014
By Dwight Moody
Matt Maiberger wrote from Fort Collins, Colorado: “Both the Academy of Preachers and out ministry, Youth Speaker’s Coach, share a common passion for equipping and sharpening young pastors and ministers to become excellent communicators of the Gospel for the advance of God’s Kingdom.”
The Youth Speaker’s Coach thus becomes our 74th National Partner (toward our goal of 100) and our first in the state of Colorado. Why not have a Festival of Young Preachers in that Rocky Mountain State (and add a ski excursion to the schedule)?
Welcome Matt Maiberger.
And welcome American Baptist College!
Dr. William F. Buchanan wrote from Nashville: “Congratulations to AoP for the fine work it is doing to build a strong contingent of prophetic and socially relevant leaders committed to excellence in preaching….It is our mission and history that gives American Baptist College a unique position to understand and support the mission of AoP in helping young preachers identify and understand the significance of their calling, while simultaneously shaping the social significance of their young prophetic voices in the world.”
American Baptist College joins with six other AoP Partners in Nashville (Trevecca Nazarene University, Fisk University, Belmont University, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Weavings, and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church); together they will be preparing for the first Nashville Regional Festival of Young Preachers, October 24-25, 2014.
And from Cincinnati, Ohio, comes this letter from Neil Pezzulo, vice president of Glenmary Home Missioners: “As a society of apostolic life, Glenmary Home Missioners is deeply committed to fostering excellent preaching….Given our shared values, Glenmary looks forward to collaborating with the Academy of Preachers in those activities that typify the best in both our organizations….On behalf of the Priests, Brothers, and Co-workers of Glenmary Home Missioners, It is my pleasure to give our endorse to the Academy of Preachers and all the work it does in building up the Kingdom of God.”
Glenmary becomes our first Partner in the Cincinnati area and our fifth Partner from the Roman Catholic tradition (the others being St. Meinrad Seminary, the Archdiocese of Louisville, Aquinas Institute of St. Louis, and Dominican Young Adults). I am hopeful of sponsoring the National Festival of Young Catholic Preachers!
So now our national partners number 75, and we are waiting for YOUR business, congregation, denomination, institution, or organization to join this movement to “identify, network, support, and inspire young people in their call to gospel preaching.” Write me a letter and let’s collaborate in this great and important work.
and late in the day comes this fourth letter, from Signature Healthcare of Louisville.
“”On behalf of Signature HealthCARE, LLC and its Department of Spirituality I would like to express our endorsement of the mission and programs of the Academy of Preachers. We applaud the efforts of the Academy as it seeks to identify, network, support, and inspire4 young people I n their all to Gospel Preaching.”
So wrote Vice President of Spirituality Dianne H. Timmering.
Then she suggest that Signature sponsor at the National Festival of Young Preachers a workshop on “Entrepreneurialism as Spiritual Pursuit.” I like that very much.
Now we are up to 76 National Partners toward our goal of 100. When is your letter coming?
February 14, 2014
By Wyndee Holbrook
Ever go to a church potluck and be amazed at how the variety of flavors on your plate makes the perfect blend? That is exactly what you can expect from our menu of plenary preachers at Abilene Christian University on March 28-29 at the ’14 Texas Regional Festival of Young Preachers. Sample below and then register to get your fill! www.academyofpreachers.net/texas
Our appetizer in the opening session will come from Jonathan Storment, Preaching Minister to Highland Church of Christ in Abilene. Jonathan graduated from ACU’s Graduate School of Theology in 2012 and is a great champion of mentoring Young Preachers. He will open the Festival sharing his story of being mentored and paying that forward. Be prepared to take notes because mentoring is the special ingredient that makes all the difference for a preacher.
The entrée served up for the Friday evening worship features Rachel Brocker, AoP’12. Having completed her MDiv at the Lutheran School of Theology, Rachel is currently serving there on staff with future plans to teach homiletics. She preached an amazing narrative sermon at the 2013 National Festival of Young Preachers. The Festival theme “Tell Me a Story” is very much her forte.
When we gather for Morning Prayer on Saturday, we will be fed by Fr. Philip LeMasters of Abilene’s St. Luke Orthodox Christian Church. Fr. Philip has a deep commitment to Young Preachers given his other role is as Professor of Religion at McMurray University. His Ph.D. is from Duke University. Fr. Philip will lead us observing the season of Lent.
After the FEAST of hearing 34 Young Preachers and these three gifted word chefs, we’ll delight in sweet words at our Celebration Lunch from Jeff and Maria Dixon Hall. Dr. Maria is a UMC candidate for ordination and Associate Communication Professor at Southern Methodist University and Rev. Jeff is Minister to Cox Chapel Community at Highland Park United Methodist Church.
Jeff and Maria are a dynamic duo and absolute cheerleaders for Young Preachers. They will share their stories of the power of gospel preaching and why we can settle for nothing less!
The two days will fill you to overflowing and give you plenty of appetite for joining us in Dallas for the 2015 National Festival of Young Preachers.
All AoP Young Preachers
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