“…give respect to those you should respect, and honor those you should honor.”
(Romans 13:7 CEB)
Most of us appreciate being honored, especially when the honor is in recognition of hard work, service to humanity, scholastic achievement or excellence in our chosen profession. Those who dedicate their lives to the professional vocations of Christian ministry are no different. Preachers of the gospel who have committed themselves to excellence in proclamation–and the often unappreciated hard work of preparation for proclamation–ought to be recognized, celebrated and commended to their peers, prospective peers and future generations as exemplars of this most noble craft.
With that being said, rankings, particularly those involving matters as subjective as preaching, make me very uncomfortable. The recent publication of “The 12 Most Effective Preachers in the English Speaking World”–the product of a survey of members of the Academy of Homiletics and the Evangelical Homiletics Society conducted by the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary–has prompted much discussion and debate in ministry circles. Some have questioned the survey criteria and nature of the survey pool. Others have drawn attention to the lack of diversity, from a range of perspectives, among those highlighted. Still, others have noted that the list fails to cover “the English speaking world” beyond the United States of America. All of these are valid critiques.
And yet, I remain grateful that the publication of this list–and the publicity it engendered–has served as a firestarter for a vibrant national conversation about preaching, preachers, and Christian ministry. The ensuing conversation highlights the deep investment that people from a variety of backgrounds continue to have in Christian preaching. The passionate critiques of the Baylor list, as well as the counter-lists now circulating from various perspectives, have drawn our attention to the richness of the American Christian landscape and the incredible diversity of those who answer to the call to preach the gospel. Women and men from a variety of backgrounds recommit themselves each week to preach divinely-inspired messages of faith, hope, prophetic critique, spiritual renewal, personal development and practical engagement with the world that are informed by their unique ministry contexts, theological commitments, social locations and the immediate needs and concerns of the communities they serve.
Recognizing the subjective nature of such an endeavor, not to mention the unavoidable blindspots and certain omissions, I’m excited to announce that Academy of Preachers DOES NOT have a list to share recognizing “The Top Young Preachers of 2018.” Instead, we celebrate and highlight all of the Young Preachers who have preached at national, regional, campus or specialized Festivals of Young Preachers over the past decade. These dynamic, creative and competent Young Preachers represent the best of the present and future church!
You can celebrate them as well by viewing their sermons on the Academy of Preachers’ YouTube channel; reading the “AoP Preacher Features” that we regularly publish with articles, interviews, updates and highlights from the ministries of the Young Preachers in the Academy of Preachers network; and contributing to the ongoing virtual conversation by highlighting the preacher(s) whose commitment to excellence in preaching inspires you by posting a social media feature using the hashtag #PreacherFeature
Visit the Academy of Preachers’ YouTube channel and browse the hundreds of sermons hosted there: Click here
Browse the AoP “Young Preacher” archive of articles, interviews, updates, and highlights featuring a variety of AoP Young Preachers: Click here
Check out these links for more conversation around this list:
Ernest A. Brooks 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 served as 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.