Innovation and Expansion at the Heart of AoP President’s Vision for the Next 10 Years of Mission-Driven Ministry
Ernest A. Brooks III, AoP ‘11, President & CEO
June 21, 2018
As Academy of Preachers celebrates 10 years of missional engagement, it is fitting that we evaluate and refine our organizational branding, programmatic foci and key messages. Our mission remains as relevant today as it did June 23, 2008: “to identify, network, support and inspire young people in the call to gospel preaching.” Over the past decade we have continued to innovate within, and push the boundaries of, that missional framework by expanding the definition of “Young Preacher” (moving from ages 18-28 to 14-35), experimenting with pilot projects to meet the unique needs of core groups of Young Preachers (i.e. the 2011 AoP/FTE Preaching Camp and the 2016 First Parish Preachers Fest), and refining our program offerings to meet the needs of even broader constituencies (mentors, undergraduate and graduate theological educators, youth, and young adult vocational discernment initiatives, and the public dialogue on the social significance of preaching that extends beyond the pulpits and pews of ecclesial communities).
One of our key learnings over the past decade is that our work with young people significantly impacts the Christian church and society at large, regardless of age or stage. We regularly receive testimonies from preaching mentors and pastors; undergraduate and graduate faculty members and administrators; parents, spouses and friends of Young Preachers; and members of the broader public, many of whom have never attended an AoP event but have been blessed by the preaching of an AoP preacher in their congregation (maybe even their pastor!), happened upon the AoP digital sermon library on YouTube, or were gifted an AoP National Festival book of sermons.
Over the next few months, we will focus our communications and programmatic activities on four core areas of engagement: iPreach, iMentor, iPartner and iGive. We will use our digital and print media properties to highlight individuals and institutions that have made contributions in each area. Additionally, all of our programs and events, including the 2019 National Festival of Young Preachers, will feature a renewed focus on preaching, mentoring, partnerships, and cultivating a culture of giving. One significant shift that you will notice is the structure of our Academy of Preachers membership program. Categories of membership will be aligned to more accurately reflect the various levels of engagement in AoP programs and our renewed emphasis on monthly giving (as launched several years ago with our Medallion Program).
It remains to be seen what new programs, platforms, and constituencies will emerge over the next decade of our work, but I am bullish on the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit at the heart of AoP. That spirit extends well beyond the operations, events and official programs of AoP–it is palpable in the Young Preachers whose passion, creativity and commitment are the lifeblood of our network and the “secret sauce” for the renewal of the church and the world!
Over the next decade we will double-down on this spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation by expanding our annual calendar of programs and events; exploring opportunities to serve new constituencies; using technology to offer more personalized and deeply engaging learning and networking activities; and remaining on the cutting edge of new trends in ministry, vocational discernment and professional development.
My simple prayer for Academy of Preachers as we celebrate the 10th “AoP Day” (Click here to register for the AoP Day Celebration in Atlanta) is that we are able to engage exponentially more Young Preachers for the renewal of the church and the world in our second decade as we have in our first.
That’s a tall order!
With your continued prayers, support, partnership, participation and investment in our missional work, I’m confident that we will succeed!
Ernest A. Brooks III is the President and CEO of the Academy of Preachers. An ordained Baptist minister, Ernest previously served as Senior Pastor of the Mount Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of Williamston, North Carolina and Assistant Dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. He also served as interim Chief Operating Officer of MovementForward, Inc., and Special Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer of The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, GA.
Ernest lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife Keneta, an academic administrator at Georgia State University.