July 31, 2014
By Dwight Moody
All week long, the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky have been meeting in Lexington, at the Hilton Hotel. This is the same hotel that will host the 2016 National Festival of Young Preachers in Lexington, in January of 2016.
The General Association of Baptists in Kentucky is the primary gathering of Black Baptists or African American Baptists (I never know which descriptive phrase to use!) in Kentucky. I have attended much of this annual meeting; and when I have not been free to do so, other AoP representatives have (Elbonita Hawkins AoP’10, Allan Moody, Christian Smith AoP’10, and Keith Turner AoP’12).
It has been a wonderful experience for me. I have greeted some old friends:
Joseph Owens, pastor of Shiloh Church here in Lexington;
Richard Gaines, pastor of Consolidated Church also in Lexington;
Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephens Church in Louisville.
Nathl Moore, pastor of First Baptist Church also in Lexington; and
T Vaughn Walker, pastor of First Gethsemane Baptist in Louisville (whose young protégée J C Campbell AoP’10 preached at three of our National Festivals and served for three years on our Young Preachers Leadership Team).
Better yet, I made some new friends:
F. Bruce Williams, pastor of Bates Memorial Church in Louisville (whose member Terra Epps AoP’10 preached at our National Festival in 2011);
Robert Houston, pastor of First Baptist in Frankfort;
Freddie Moody, associate minister at Pleasant Green Baptist Church in Lexington (see photo, upper left); and
Jonathan Morehead, pastor of Hosack Street Church in Columbus, Ohio, (see photo, lower left); he is brother-in-law to my long-time friend (and AoP donor) Amos Jones, now a law professor in North Carolina–there is a feature story on Amos in the current edition of our magazine PREACHAPALOOZA.
Then there was the preaching! Thirteen sermons listed on the program! My white Baptists could take notice of this and follow suit! Last night, moderator C B Akins gave his “address” but it sure sounded more like a sermon to me. It was terrific, and I told him so!
I hope to go back tonight, when young Nathl Moore presides; he was a guest preacher for me at Georgetown College when I was Dean of the Chapel there a few years ago.
Lots of these ministers expressed interest in the Academy of Preachers, and I hope they take advantage of the opportunities we are offering their Young Preachers. After all, we will be in Lexington for the 2016 National Festival in January of 2016. The next planning meeting is in September, and all are welcome to come and help prepare for this great event (it will be our seventh national festival). Between now and then we will have a Regional Festival in Louisville next year.
It has been a good week. Thanks be to God.
July 26, 2014
By Dwight Moody
My long time friend Mike Duduit, editor of Preaching magazine, has published a list of the 25 most influential preachers of the last 25 years. Duduit is an evangelical and his list shows his bias.
Of these 25 “most influential preachers” are three black preachers (Garner Taylor, Bill Jones, and E. K. Bailey), one woman (Barbara Brown Taylor), and one Pentecostal (Jack Hayford). Three others would represent mainline Protestantism (Fred Craddock, William Willimon, John Ogilvie).
And the rest?
All mainstream Evangelical or Fundamental: Graham, Swindoll, Warren, MacArthur, Rogers, Robinson, Stanley, Stanley, Stott, Criswell, Piper, Olford, Hybels, Driscoll, Kennedy, Wiersbe, and Keller.
The vast majority of Christians in American would not recognize most of these names.
Of these 25, six are dead and another 11 are largely retired from active ministry. So that leaves eight of the 25 still in active public ministry: Hayford, Warren, MacArthur, Stanley and Stanley, Hybels, Driscoll, and Keller. All of them fall in the Evangelical and Fundamental circles.
This list is more a commentary of Duduit’s circle of friends than an assessment on which preachers have shaped American religious or public life.
Even at that there are some powerful names missing: Bob Russell, T D Jakes, Jerry Falwell, Joyce Meyers, and Robert Schuller. And would not Joel Osteen be on that list somewhere?
And missing entirely are Catholic preachers; and social justice preachers; and liberal preachers; and Hispanic preachers; and preachers who started powerful movements, such as Gordon Cosby of Church of the Savior in Washington DC; or preachers who preached and wrote for powerful people, such as Peter Gomes of Memorial Chapel at Harvard?
Here is the most serious critique of Duduit’s list: at least seven if not all eight non-retired preachers on his list (see above) are stalwarts of the Religious Right. If these are the “most influential” preachers in America, why has their socio-religious movement failed to capture the imagination of the Christian community in America? Why has their version of what it means to be Christian in America not prevailed even among religious people?
I suspect Duduit has listed those who are most influential in his own circles, or those he wishes were the most influential.
Preaching continues to be one of the most influential practices in American public life. After all, it has been just three years since the nation dedicated the newest major memorial on the National Mall: not to a politician or a general, not to an entrepreneur or a lawyer, but to a preacher—not just any preacher, but one who continues to exert more influence on American society than any preacher on the list offered by Duduit.
I think we need another list of influential preachers. Will you help me construct it? Send your nominations to me at Dwight@academyofpreachers.net; or respond on Facebook at either my page or that of the Academy of Preachers. Together let’s create a roll call of influential preaching that is more faithful to the way that the way of Jesus Christ is actually lived in America.
July 23, 2014
By David Telfort, AoP'12
My call to preach was confirmed in my sophomore year of college. I was in an internship at a financial firm and although I enjoyed my work I felt unfulfilled. I read a book that shifted my theological framework, “Cold Anger: A Story of Faith and Power Politics”. The book confirmed for me that God cares about our lives on earth as much as the desire that we make it to heaven. The book freed me to preach a gospel of justice, love and reconciliation. In the summer of 2011, through the Forum for Theological Exploration I was introduced to the Academy of Preachers (AoP). In AoP I found an organization that helps to refine and polish the gifts of communication God has given me.
Often meaningful messages do not reach their impact-potential because of the way they are communicated. During AoP’s preaching camp and my subsequent involvement in their festivals I learned effective ways of exchanging ideas. I learned that preaching is much more than exegesis of a passage. Preaching is body posturing, hand movement and identifying with one’s audience. AoP has pushed me to expand my idea of what preaching is and what it can be, beyond the bounds of my tradition.
When I think of my call to preach I think of my biblical namesake David. In 1st Samuel when he overhears Goliath taunting the Israelites and disrespecting God, David feels compelled to say something. We don’t know for sure but David did not seem to have dreams of being a famous warrior and an eventual King. Instead he is faithful in his duties as a shepherd and is moved in a new direction when God sees fit. In the same way, I never considered preaching to be a calling of mine. It was something I was drawn to. I reflected on my childhood in a working class community and felt that my observations of how the world works were not addressed in the church. Economic disparity, education inequality and racism were things I experienced but I never heard anyone propose what God might have to say about these issues. I heard a voice within me say, “Why don’t you?”
There are many people who are able to name what is wrong with the world but not enough who have the vision and boldness to propose solutions for change. AoP gives young people a platform to do just that. A platform to celebrate the Church and the things that it does well, but also push an institution we love and believe in. Each festival I attend gives me an opportunity to hear how well the Church is doing, but also vision for what the Church can be. This emboldens me as I continue my journey. I may not be sure of where I will end up, but wherever I go I have colleagues in the faith who strive to preach a challenging, redeeming and inclusive word pointing to Christ.
July 14, 2014
By Dwight Moody
Last week, in a meeting at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill (Kentucky) seven (of the eight) members of the Board of Directors met to assume legal and fiduciary responsibility for the Academy of Preachers. It was a grand and historic occasion; who knows where all of this will lead.
Shaker Village was a suitable place: old, sturdy, self sufficient community on a weekend of spectacular weather, bluegrass and choral music, and more food than we could possibly enjoy. Even the moon was phenomenal. Shaker Village itself, now reborn as a tourist and meeting destination, was home to a community of believers, one that lasted 150 years. May our Academy of Preachers be so blessed.
There were seven of us Directors, joined by our governance consultant Cyrus White, our finance manager Laura Godbey, and our event manager Allan Moody. We were a warm and friendly group, in some ways just getting adjusted to one another and to the important role we were assuming.
During the previous three months, we had opened our own AoP bank accounts, contracted with a human resources and payroll firm, and authorized particular directors to act on behalf of all. These are things ordinary to the process of launching a non-profit corporation.
Our “launch” came more than five years after we began work: hosting festivals, leading camps, recruiting partners, publishing books, and posting videos. During that time we had been under the watchcare of two churches: St. Matthews Baptist Church and Middletown Christian Church, both in Louisville. Their support and guidance was invaluable and, in large measure, the cause of our successful launch last week.
Middletown Christian Church, through its pastor who is also an AoP Director, presented AoP with a check for $154,000. This was AoP money, raised from donors, sponsors, and young preachers attending AoP festivals, but kept in the Middletown Church accounts: until last week, when it was transferred to us, the Academy of Preachers, and deposited in our own accounts.
It is a good feeling, and also a giant step forward….not for the whole human race (like the moon landing) but at least for the hundreds of Young Preachers who have already drawn inspiration from our festivals and also the thousands of people, Christian and non, who are being blessed through the preaching ministry of these up-and-coming speakers of the gospel.
Thank you for your prayers, your advocacy, your attendance, your encouragement, your donations, your time: all that you send our way to help us “to identify, network, support, and inspire young people in their call to gospel preaching.”
This year, join us in this unique and vital strategy to under gird our mission: QR92…our effort to secure 92 people to donate monthly to the Academy of Preachers through a bank transfer. As little as $5 or as much as $500: being one of these 92 who are ensuring the sustainability of our mission.
Visit the Support Page on this web site, click any of our Donate Now buttons, or use the QR code here to join our growing network of friends and donors. If you wonder what Young Preachers think about what we are doing, read our Five Year Assessment Report called “God Whispered to Me” found else where on this web site.
July 7, 2014
By Dwight Moody
So wrote one Young Preacher in assessing his experience at the National Festival of Young Preachers.
I don’t know his or her name, any more than I know the name of any of the other 194 Young Preachers who participated in our Five Year AoP Assessment Project.
This project consisted of a ten-minute on-line questionnaire designed by our Director of Assessments and Research, Dr. Lori Carrell. Dr. Carrell is a Distinguished Professor of Communication at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.
In the questionnaire Young Preachers were asked about their experience at one of our five National Festivals. They responded that the Festival:
*inspired and motivated me;
*increased my contact with people from church traditions different from my own;
* increased my confidence in preaching; and
*increased by interest in preaching.
You can read the entire 20-page report here; and if you want a printed copy (or even multiple printed copies), email me at Dwight@academyofpreachers.net
This research is invaluable to our mission and programs. It should inspire every donor. It should encourage many other Young Preachers to register for our festivals (Boston, Nashville, and Dallas over the next 6 months). It should sustain the Directors, Contractors, Gospel Catalysts, and even our two-person staff (Wyndee Holbrook and me), all of whom dedicate above and beyond the call of duty to the success of the Academy of Preachers.
The title, God Whispered to Me, comes from the testimony of another Young Preacher: “Through being at the festival, listening to other great preachers, and receiving great insight, many confirmations took place in those three days and in my spirit. It sat well. It was as if God whispered to me and said, ‘This is what I made you for’.”