Rev. Ernest Brooks III, AoP President
We often hear about the importance of passion IN Preaching, but I’m convinced that passion FOR preaching is absolutely foundational for an effective preaching ministry. Passion as expressed through methods of delivery, word choices, how those words are spoken, non-verbal gestures and overall physical and emotional energy can be taught, cultivated and coached. However, passion FOR preaching-the love and joy of preaching as a calling, vocation, skill and personal spiritual discipline as well as a tool for religious instruction, catalyzing spiritual growth, and facilitating personal and social transformation-is deeply personal. It develops internally and manifests externally. Passion for preaching cannot be taught, but it can be nourished, cultivated, encouraged and strengthened. At Academy of Preachers we are deeply invested in both sides of the “passion equation.” Cultivating, nourishing, encouraging and strengthening the passion FOR preaching among young women and men who are responding to a divine call to preach the Gospel of Jesus is the single most important thing that we do at AoP.
On a recent Saturday, I was honored to spend the day preaching, listening to preaching and coaching ten Young Preachers participating in a Festival of Young Preachers at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Boonton, NJ co-hosted by a local ministerial development initiative called The Preaching Lab. There was plenty of passion IN the preaching of these Young Preachers-as evidenced in their recorded sermons that will be available for viewing on the AoP’s YouTube channel-but I was most impressed and encouraged by their passion FOR preaching. These ten Young Preachers dedicated their entire Saturday to honoring their call to preach by cultivating the gifts and skills of preaching, building collegial relationships with other Young Preachers, and receiving valuable sermon evaluation, coaching and mentoring. The story of one of these Young Preachers, Celumusa Dlamini, stands out as a sterling example of the passion FOR preaching that we seek to cultivate:
Celumusa is a Young Preacher from Swaziland, a nation in south eastern Africa nestled between South Africa and Mozambique near the Indian Ocean. Celumusa was introduced to Academy of Preachers through YouTube videos of sermons from the National Festival of Young Preachers. As a Young Preacher himself, Celumusa was hooked and started following AoP as well as individual AoP Young Preachers on social media. Two years after his online introduction to Academy of Preachers, Celumusa found himself in the United States to study as a member of the 2017 cohort of the Mandela Global Fellowship. With five weeks left in his fellowship program, Celumusa contacted the national office of Academy of Preachers to determine if there was any opportunity to participate in an AoP event prior to his return to Swaziland. Upon learning that he would be in Washington, DC for the final portion of his fellowship, Debbie Moody, AoP Director of Festivals, told Celumusa, “If you can get to New Jersey, you can participate in The Preaching Lab Festival of Young Preachers.” Celumusa registered online and traveled by bus from Washington, DC to Boonton, NJ to participate in The Preaching Lab Festival of Young Preachers. And preach he did! Celumusa, and the nine other Young Preachers participating in The Preaching Lab Festival that Saturday, as well as the host ministers from Mount Zion and pastors and professors of homiletics from the region who served as sermon evaluators, demonstrated passion FOR preaching. As I travel around the country over the net few months to host and participate in regional, local and specialized Festivals of Preachers as well as events co-hosted hosted by our iPartners, I will be on the lookout for passion IN preaching as well as passion FOR preaching.
See you on the road over the next few months and January 2-5, 2018 at the 9th Annual National Festival of Young Preachers in Atlanta, GA!