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Festivals for Young Preachers are springing up all over the country this summer, and they are hosted by national denominational gatherings.
The first is the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. At their General Assembly in Dallas (June17-20), 16 Young Preachers are registered to preach on the year-long AoP theme, HEAVEN & EARTH. This tradition started 4 years ago with only 4 Young Preachers.
The second is the North American Christian Convention. They will gather in Cincinnati (June 22-25) and witness the final stage of an innovative Next Generation Preacher Search. Managed from Peperdine University, this competition induced scores of Young Preachers to submit sermon videos last fall; some were invited to one of two national events, and from these 4 were selected to preach on Wednesday morning June 24.
The Mission Summit of American Baptist Churches USA gathers in Kansas City (June 25-29). Central Baptist Theological Seminary has coordinated their first Festival of Young Preachers and more than 20 are expected to stand and deliver a message from the 20 biblical texts associated with the HEAVEN & EARTH theme.
Finally, more than 100 Young Preachers are expected at the Young Preachers Festival and Conference also in Kansas City (July 16-18). This event, hosted by Church of the Resurrection and directed by AoP Gospel Catalyst Tyler Best AoP’11), builds off of the momentum of festivals at University of Evansville, Pfrimmers Chapel UMM, and the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. (Note especially the video of Tyler on this INUMC website.)
This attention to Young Preachers has, in large measure, grown out of the mission and programs of the Academy of Preachers. Our mission is to “identify, network, support, and inspire young people in the call to gospel preaching.” Augmenting attention given to other avenues of ministry (social justice, worship, youth ministry, etc), the AoP has brought fresh focus to the role of preaching, both parish preaching and public preaching.
We have given our energy to regional and national festivals but the real opportunity lies with these denominational networks. Every regional and national meeting of a denomination needs to include a Festival for Young Preachers. Such an initiative will bring younger leaders into what is generally a gray gathering; and the preaching of this millennial generation will become a wellspring of hope within denominational structures that are struggling to remain solvent, relevant, and vital.
The Academy of Preachers is ready to help any association, conference, synod, or assembly empower their Young Preachers through a Festival. We have a FESTIVAL IN A BOX that is designed and available for this very purpose. We even have professional staff and trained Young Preachers (we call them Gospel Catalysts) ready to assist in any such effort.
Throughout this summer, AoP team members Dwight A. Moody and Wyndee Holbrook will be attending, leading, recording, and reporting on these Festivals highlighted above. Tap us on the shoulder and ask how we can help you.
So last week in Indianapolis I couldn’t have been happier than to be in the presence of 15 Young Preachers at the Indiana United Methodist Annual Conference where they held their third annual Festival of Young Preachers.
I might add I’ve been privileged to attend all 3, and this was the best!
Following the Conference theme, “Share Your Story,” 13 year-old Hannah amazed us as she shared the importance of the role of stories in growing the Kingdom of God. “As the gospel story is shared, new stories begin in other people’s lives, and the Kingdom grows.” Young Preachers shared their personal stories giving testimony to the power of God enabling them to live their story and their calling.
The sermon sessions were capped off with a celebration lunch with over 200 in attendance. During the program three more sermons were shared and each Young Preacher was given a pair of AoP socks thanks to Director of Leadership Development, Aleze Fulbright.
INUMC is one of AoP’s new iPartners and the home base for our newest Gospel Catalyst Brittney Stephan, AoP’15.
One of the great joys of such events is the interaction between the Young Preachers and those who gather to hear them. There is such warmth among the group as all are focused on the importance of the gospel and hearing it from fresh voices. Watching the hugs, high fives and smiling faces makes Festivals of Young Preachers extraordinary events.
Why don’t you talk to your denominational body about hosting a Festival?
And to see how it is done, plan to attend the 2016 National Festival of Young Preachers, next January, in Lexington, Kentucky!!