By Joseph T. Howard, AoP’12
What began as a dream after seeing a video on YouTube has blossomed into one of the most important things in my life. The Academy of Preachers is without a doubt one of the best things that has ever happened to me, as both a Christian and a preacher. Through this organization, I’ve learned so many valuable lessons that no classroom or even church could have offered, and for that I’ll always be grateful. It’s amazing to me the things that God has brought into my life as a result of the Academy. It is truly an Academy like no other.
Let’s start at the beginning. It was in late 2010 when I was first made aware of an event known as the National Festival of Young Preachers. On Facebook I saw pictures and status updates about the wonderful time that was being had at the inaugural installment of this event, and I instantly knew I wanted to be part of it. I had never heard of any sort of space in which young preachers came together to fellowship and learn from each other, especially since I only knew a few young preachers. Since becoming affiliated with the Academy, I’ve been blessed to connect with hundreds of young preachers from all over the country, and some life-long friendships have been established as well. (Four fellow AOP members served as groomsmen in my wedding this past August!) Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to attend the 2011 festival, but I made it a personal goal to attend in 2012. Thanks be to God, this dream came to pass, and I have attended every National Festival ever since.
There are many essential things to preaching that I now know as a result of the Academy. This Academy is not a school with classes, a bell, recess, and report cards, but it is definitely a learning experience nonetheless. The mentorship and feedback aspect is in my opinion one of the beneficial aspects, because it encourages us to continue to improve, while discouraging complacency. There are many young preachers who feel as if they have no need to improve, or they are surrounded by people who give them little to no feedback, so therefore the preachers don’t know what steps they can take to improve their preaching. The Academy provides that and then some, which is what I attribute a lot of my growth and maturity to. Additionally, we are provided an opportunity to hear a text from various interpretations, which is a very unique opportunity to consider a side of a story that we didn’t even know existed in the first place. Since each of us share the same goal of leading people to Christ, these dialogues are always excellent, even if there are disagreements along the way.
To say this space is needed would be the understatement of the century…but I’ll say it anyway; this space is needed. From the fellowship, to the instruction, to the mentorship, to the worship, to the partnership between all of us, this is a necessary entity that will only get better with time. I am honored and humbled to be able to be a part of it, and I’m grateful to God for the amazing things that have happened as a result. To anyone who is considering partnering with us, take it from me, you will not regret it. Not only is this an Academy like no other, but it is truly an experience like no other.
When I think of the impact that the Academy of Preachers has had on my life, an illustration comes to mind. We have all picked up a pebble at one time or another and tossed it into a still pond and watched the ripple effect that ensues. There is a similar ripple effect that takes place in each of our lives. Along the way, there have been people and events that have impacted our lives in meaningful ways.
One of the first pebbles in my “Gospel preaching” pond was the appointment of a clergy woman to my home church. I spent the first few years of my life not knowing that women were called to gospel preaching or that they could serve as the pastor of a church. She was not only the first woman to serve as a pastor in our church, but in our county as well. The ripples her appointment created have positively impacted my life and introduced me to new opportunities along the way. Those ripples have led me to pursue a career in ministry and introduced me to the Academy of Preachers.
The Academy of Preachers happens to be another important pebble in my pond. I have found it to be an excellent place to learn and grow. It is also a place that provides each of us with an incredible network of young people who are also called to share the Good News! The Academy of Preachers has impacted my life in more ways than I can count and the ripples have proven to have a continual effect.
Every event offered by the Academy of Preachers provides us with a unique experience that is unlike anything else. To have the opportunity to network with and befriend other young preachers is an incredible blessing and being able to learn from one another is priceless. I have heard sermons preached from many denominations including Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, and Pentecostal traditions. While we may all come from different faith backgrounds, one thing remains the same and unites us all: God is at the center of each and every message that is spoken. Listening to other Young Preachers tell the Gospel story from their denominational perspective impacts all of us who are there to hear it. My life is never ceases to be enriched by every interaction that I have; whether it is having a conversation with someone at dinner, listening to a young preacher preach, or catching up after a few months have gone by.
There are many instances where I have witnessed the ripple effect through the Academy of Preachers. I think it allows us to get a glimpse of the great things that can come from a group of people, who seek to glorify God and unite together. The Academy of Preachers creates many ripples and it is without a doubt in my mind that through the network of this organization, a tidal wave of Young Preachers sharing the Gospel story will result!
Regional Festivals for Young Preachers will be held in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Texas during 2015 with the preaching theme HEAVEN & EARTH.
Green Lake Conference Center in beautiful Green Lake, Wisconsin, will hold its second Regional Festival on July 7-8. Last year the lake-front resort welcomed 10 Young Preachers for their first AoP event, and this year up to 30 Young Preachers will be accommodated.
New England will see its second Regional Festival. Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, north of Boston, will host the event for Young Preachers on Saturday, October 10. Tim Norton, AoP’15, who is a student there, was a plenary preacher at the recent National Festival in Dallas.
The fourth annual Texas Regional Festival will be October 24 at the Sweet Home Baptist Church in Round Rock, Texas. Sweet Home is the home church of well-known AoP’10 preacher Larry Terrell Crudup who has preached at five National Festivals.
Finally, the Louisville Metro AoP Chapter will host a Regional Festival at Louisville Seminary on October 31. This is the first Regional Festival for Louisville since it hosted three consecutive National Festivals in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
The preaching theme for all four Regional Festivals is HEAVEN & EARTH. The preaching texts, organized under four headings (creating, receiving, surviving, and redeeming Heaven and Earth) can be found here.
Registration for these four events is open to any Young Preacher 14 to 28 years old. Registration will open on-line on March 1, 2015.
It is hard to believe that just over a week has passed since the inaugural Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church (INUMC) Festival of Young Preachers. The lingering impact causes me to reflect on the experience and imagine the possibilities for the future.
Hearing eighteen young preachers, ages 14 – 26, from all over Indiana passionately preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ leads to long term inspiration. You will have the opportunity to view these young preachers in action on YouTube in the next few days. More than ever, this Festival has given me new hope in two very key areas.
First, it has given me hope for the future of my denomination, the United Methodist Church. I am not one to brush statistics under the rug and act as if they do not exist. Research conducted by Wesley Theological Seminary’s Lewis Center for Church Leadership in 2010 found the following results.
On a very positive note, the study also found that the number of elders, deacons, and local pastors had increased in the last ten years. This is a reassuring observation, but this doesn’t mean we should become negligent in the endeavor to identify, network, inspire, and support young preachers and/or clergy. We must continue to utilize exploration events and campus ministries, but we must also embrace new ideas throughout the denomination.
The Academy of Preachers provides a perfect resource through signature Festival of Young Preachers events. This is not a theoretical concept that may or may not work. After assisting with the planning and implementation of the INUMC Festival, I am convinced that this is one of the crucial pieces to retaining people in my age group as they discern a call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ as clergy or laity in the local church. I urge all annual conferences to consider the possibility of hosting a Festival with the assistance of others in the UMC who have attended a local or national Festival.
Often times, individuals in any age group may hear a call, a tug on their heart from the Holy Spirit, to preach the Gospel. Unfortunately, the reality of many is that they don’t have the opportunity or support system in place to become confident in their call to preach. As a result, these individuals begin to second guess their call and cease to preach, if they even get started. At every Festival I attend, I witness individuals who appear slightly timid at the prospect of standing in the pulpit. When they leave, however, they are ready to embrace their call as they have connected with a nurturing network of supporters and received the inspiration they need to perfect what they have been called to do.
The INUMC Festival of Young Preachers also gave me hope for the Church as a whole. I will admit that I am more in tune with the happenings going on within the United Methodist Church, but I have spoken with church leaders in other denominations who are experiencing similar situations regarding clergy and laity numbers. Festivals of Young Preachers are not a key solution for the UMC alone. I encourage ALL denominations to consider the impact that Festivals could have within your denomination as you seek to spread the Gospel to all people.
Editorial note: Tyler Best is a 20 year old college student who presented the idea of a Festival of Young Preachers to leadership in his denomination. The openness of the leadership and Tyler’s willingness to work toward the goal of an INUMC Festival has begun a movement of great importance.
David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.
(1st Samuel 17:39, NLT)
A few months ago as I rode the MARTA to the National Festival of Young Preachers a friend and I talked about the changing demographics of the church. She shared how her pastors back home, once a month, hold church services Sunday evenings in a coffee shop where they feed a younger, “unchurched” crowd hungry to learn more about Jesus. A year earlier, I heard stories about churches who similarly took their ministry outside of Sunday worship and the four walls of the church. One in Philadelphia, PA set up shop outside of a popular nightclub and served hungry club patrons with free pizza printing bible verses and service times on their napkins. Another ministry in Atlanta, GA decided that “conventional” worship services were not enough anymore. They forwent normal worship and used Sundays as prayer time and agenda setting for a week full of localized service, community organizing and neighborhood restoration.
As I sat on the smooth, sight-filled ride to the heart of Atlanta getting ready to preach a sermon I asked myself, “What will preaching look, feel, sound and taste like for this new generation?” How does one preach in a coffee shop? How does one proclaim the gospel on a pizza truck to club goers at three a.m.? As we preach in our churches, how do we reach and hold in balance congregations filled with those who grew up in Sunday school their entire lives and crave something new, with those who do not know the story of Easter? How do we preach to a new generation?
When I think about preaching to a new generation, I think of a critical moment in the life of my namesake, David. In the beginning of the transition of his journey with God going from private to public, David is in Saul’s chambers preparing to fight the giant Goliath. Saul, in his desire to dispel this threat to national security and lead the Israelites to victory against their Philistine assailants, begins prepping David. He fits him with his armor. Saul, who symbolizes an older generation, tries to put on David what used to work for him.
His weaponry bogs down David. The hot, heavy helmet blurs his vision. His body is no longer agile and quick under the weightiness of the mail body armor. The heavy sword lessens the precision of his arms and hands. His steps go from controlled to cumbersome. David makes the hard decision that we as preachers for a new generation must make. He takes off the armor.
David’s mission does not change. He is still tasked with defeating Goliath and bringing glory to God. David’s anointing does not change. God is still walking and covering him every step he goes, as we know from the end of the story. What David realizes however, is that he cannot go about his mission and call the same way that Saul did. Referring to the armor David says, “I am not used to them”. Really, David is saying, “I cannot use something that is not relevant to me. I would be fooling myself to use tools that I have never used before. God has uniquely equipped me with experiences that position me to do this task.”
Part of preaching to a new generation means women and men of the gospel tapping into the gifts that God has placed in their lives. We should not try to imitate others but instead rely on the experiences and gifts that allow us to be a powerful witness to the saving, healing and restorative love that God offers the broken world we live in. Preaching to a new generation does not mean throwing tradition out the window. It does not mean forgetting the wisdom of Prathia L. Hall, Gardner C. Taylor, Abigail Roberts and Thomas G. Long. It means as David did, channeling the lessons and bravery of these vessels of God’s glory; continuing the work of gospel but retrofitting what we have learned with new tools and methods.
If David insists on wearing Saul’s armor, he loses the battle. What he does is scary and surprising to many, but it saves his life and accomplishes the mission. Our churches continue to be places where church folk meet, live, interact, and form community with other church folks. If we are going to reach a new generation: those growing up in the church, as well as those who think church is the last place they want to be or would be welcomed, we need to get rid of the fitting rooms. This means that we must resist the urge to fit a 21st century ministry and call from God with 20th century armor.
While our goal may be the same, we must be open to God’s voice leading us to new methods and forms of ministry. That may mean opening our church doors to people who our grandparents and parents kept out. It could also mean asking the neighborhoods and cities our churches inhabit what they need in order for church to be a place where they would see themselves. Not compromising the Gospel, but in fact heeding it, these efforts could go a long way in reaching new people for Christ.
I am optimistic about the future of preaching. The Festival of Young Preachers reminds me every year that whether it is in a pulpit, coffee shop, pizza truck or prison chapel, God does not change. The core of Gospel has not changed. We must make ourselves available to the move of God, resist the urge to flock to the fitting rooms and let God do the dressing.
By Tyler Best AoP ’12, Religion Student University of Evansville
England may be a small country geographically, but it has a tremendous history of creative Christian witness. With that in mind I want to focus our attention on a distinguished native of England and his adventures.
It is rather natural to envision images of Mary Kay Ash, Bill Gates, Madame C.J. Walker, and Steve Jobs when we hear the word “entrepreneur.” These are honestly the names that have come to my mind, but just as these people have affected the lives of millions through their work, there is one individual who may have impacted more lives than Ash, Gates, Walker, and Jobs combined.
Whether you agree with none, some, or all of his theology, there is no denying that John Wesley had an entrepreneurial spirit that was contagious and transformative. When Wesley sought to spread the Gospel to Native Americans in an unknown place, everything did not turn out exactly the way he envisioned. In fact, it isn’t a secret that his endeavor in America was a complete catastrophe. Not only was he unsuccessful with Native Americans, he also had issues with parishioners in the community he served. His experience in America ended as he literally escaped the colony before charges could be brought against him.
Did Wesley cease his ministry endeavors after this failed attempt? Of course not! Sure, he was discouraged and unhappy from the whole experience, but it did not stop him. True entrepreneurs of the Gospel do not allow failures to hinder their eventual success.
Upon returning to England and experiencing a conversion experience on Aldersgate Street, Wesley began implementing several innovative ideas. Through obedience to God and the encouragement of people around him, he was able to effectively put these ideas in place. Chief among these was his desire to preach outdoors and reach people the Church had neglected and avoided for quite some time.
Just like any effective entrepreneur, Wesley did not build his movement alone. He also trained and sent out other lay preachers to take part in the very same activity. It did not stay in one place and become stagnant. Just as we see companies like Apple Inc. expanding into markets all throughout the world, we saw John Wesley using Gospel preachers to influence their world throughout England and eventually America. He chose people he could trust, people who captured the vision and I will acknowledge my belief that the effort has been quite successful.
It wasn’t completely acceptable to all the people around him. It is unfortunate that Wesley received opposition from leaders within the Church of England, but also close friends, that rejected his ideas. Obviously, this criticism did not hinder Wesley either.
These experiences are not relevant to John Wesley alone. Often times we allow what may be perceived as a failure (ministry related or not) to hinder our entrepreneurial and innovative side. We allow others to impede our Gospel-spreading effectiveness through negative attitudes. If you haven’t experienced a situation like this personally, you may know others that may have experienced a similar situation.
Be encouraged as you remember the determined attitude of John Wesley and help others do the same. What if he had abandoned ministry after his failure? There is no doubt that the world would be a far different place. Today Methodists number about 30 million people worldwide, but the impact goes far beyond simple numbers. All of this achievement is due to one man being obedient to God as he stepped outside his failure and used entrepreneurial skills to reach people in the name of Jesus Christ that hadn’t been reached before. As a result, many lives have been transformed and will continue to be transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“I look upon all the world as my parish.” – John Wesley
If you’ve ever visited Cleveland, Ohio then you have likely driven past a sign which reads Cleveland Clinic. Consisting of 41 buildings on 140 acres of land, it is safe to say they are a major entrepreneurial enterprise and greatly impact the economic stability of the area. As a native of Cleveland, I am proud to say they hold the title as the fourth best hospital in the country.
Over the years I have had to make several trips to one of the campuses to visit and support friends, family and church members. In addition to their overall hospital rating, they strive to be a five star institution in their customer service. If customer service is about providing individuals with the best and most positive experience while receiving a service, then I would reason that all of life is about customer service.
When you arrive to a Cleveland Clinic location you are greeted by people in red jackets and smiling faces. They take the time to look up from their task and acknowledge your presence. They are there to point you in the right direction to find your loved one or get you to your appointment on time. They will walk with you or do what is needed to make your visit as pleasant as possible given your circumstances.
Sometimes it is the friendly smile, sometimes it’s a Kleenex to wipe your tears and other times it is bringing you a cup of coffee after you’ve sat in the same chair waiting for the surgical update. Now while these may not sound like major things I can recount several encounters at restaurants, hotels and stores where the customer service was less than what I had hoped for.
Considering that entrepreneurs strive to be the best at what they offer, I pause and think about what it would mean if our churches and its leaders strived for the same mark. As one who seeks to lead a congregation I think about what “customer service” should look like. Rather than letting first time visitors wander around aimlessly looking for restrooms or the sanctuary, what if we had greeters who actually lived up to their name and title? Instead of being an exclusive and elitist country club, what if we took time to learn what people are really “shopping” for instead of offering a one size fits all gospel. In striving to be a five star church we can no longer be keepers of the status quo but must remember the same Jesus who cleared the temple of its unclean practices.
While turning to my call as a gospel preacher I also strive for five stars. Five stars doesn’t mean preaching for a certain length of time, the audio response of the hearers or if people joined the church that particular day.
I remember a line from my AOP sermon this year, “I’m looking for preachers who will do the hard work of finding the good news, and not for ones who are interested in making people shout based on clichés and emotions”. Five star preaching demands a response from hearers, but it is the transformation of their lives and their walk with their Savior.
I am crazy enough to believe that although the church is made up of imperfect people we can still earn five star ratings. Certainly if the world and its institutions can do it, we can as well.
Though I have never been a huge sports fan, I have always enjoyed supporting my high school sports teams, even since I have graduated. During spring break, my high school’s boys’ basketball team played in the sectional championship game against a local rival team. Unfortunately, our team lost, but one thing sticks out greater than the loss itself… the cheer section. Whether it was the wave, roller coaster, or a rendition of the Harlem Shake, the cheer section had so much energy and was there to encourage the team even when they weren’t doing so well.
As preachers, we may wish that a cheer section would randomly appear as we are preparing for our next sermon so that we feel encouraged to write down what we feel the Holy Spirit has led us to preach. During delivery of that same sermon, we often rely on those in the congregation to give us nonverbal or verbal cues during the sermon so that we can be encouraged and know that everyone is paying attention. Many times we also frequently rely on the encouragement and advice of our advisor as we head into a different season of our lives.
One great source of encouragement for me as a young preacher has been the network of fellow young preachers that I have connected with through both National Festivals I have attended in the past two years. This network of people provides an instant connection with people who have gone through similar experiences that I may be going through. It also allows one the opportunity to encourage preachers that they would have never met if it weren’t for the National Festival of Young Preachers.
How have these networks been established? Beyond intentional conversation, a great source of networking in my experience was the preaching circles. Preaching circles are one of the most unique features of the National Festival of Young Preachers. Young preachers who have never met people their age with the same call to preach are astounded by stories they hear and the encouragement they receive from this group. My most recent preaching circle experience is one that I can vividly remember. It still encourages me today and gives me hope for my future in ministry. Molly Shoulta, Alejandra Herreras, Corey Holmes, Dane Jones, Mitchell Monroe, Robert Woods, and Kathryn Garelli, along with our leader, Charmaine Webster, made up one of the most inspiring groups of people I have met thus far. We lifted each other up in prayer, we were a presence during each other’s preaching sessions, we encouraged each other after each of us preached, and we took the time to become acquainted.
This group reminded me of all the people that the Holy Spirit has used to encourage me in my call to Gospel preaching – my family, close friends, church family at Pfrimmer’s Chapel and the United Methodist Church, and the staff and faculty at University of Evansville. Without this “cheer section” of encouragers, I may have honestly jumped off the preaching boat long ago. I can now add the Academy of Preachers to this list of inspiring encouragers in my life. God has used the National Festival of Young Preachers to rejuvenate me and realign my focus to what I am called to do through all the incredible people that attend the event.
I challenge you to find young preachers that have potential and give them the encouragement they need to become confident in what God has called them to do. Begin encouraging others that have not experienced a flood of encouragement to attend the National Festival of Young Preachers in Indianapolis! Connect them with a “cheer section” of people they can relate to and an event that is sure to give them encouragement for their future in ministry. Allow God to use you in this way!
“Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NRSV)
It’s been over a month since we all gathered in Atlanta, and I have to confess that I’m having a hard time reflecting on my experiences at that grace-filled gathering. At first, I thought the haze of time was keeping my thoughts from cohering into anything resembling an article. Or else it was surely the bustle of a new semester – new class, new professors, new obligations – that prevented my sitting down with my thoughts. But I think the reason I have been unable to reflect on the 2013 National Festival of Young Preachers runs deeper than any of these cursory reasons.
Largely, I think I have been unable to really reflect on this past festival for issues of geography. Allow me to explain. I moved to Atlanta in July, and unlike a number of “Atlantans,” I have an actual Atlanta address and I’m developing an abiding love for the things that happen inside the I-285 perimeter. The neighborhoods, parishes, restaurants, thrift stores, pubs, community centers, and coffee shops of Intown, Downtown, and Midtown mean more to me than they ever did when I was a suburbanite who only ventured into the big city for shows at the Fox or a Falcons game. Atlanta is rapidly becoming my city.
I know I’m not the only person in the world who loves this city, nor was I the only one at the Festival who loves this city, but I have a confession to make: I don’t think Buckhead is really a part of this city. Historically, the neighborhood was always a vacation spot for wealthy Atlantans. The few black areas that managed to spring up were razed in the 1940s. Nowadays, Buckhead is America’s ninth-wealthiest zip-code and houses the priciest real estate in the city, including the Georgia governor’s mansion. Its retail industry grosses over $1 billion annually – more than the GDP of a number of developing nations. Buckhead boasts not one but two Mobil 5-star restaurants. And its citizens are currently trying to secede from the city, ensuring that their tax revenue would continue to benefit only the wealthiest of Georgians.
And there we were, in the middle of all of it, living large in the Grand Hyatt and rubbing elbows with Tim Tebow (yup, he was staying with us while attending Passion). We preached from texts like Jeremiah 7, which proclaims that God will only dwell in Israel if Israel does not “oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow.” Or Isaiah 6, a declaration of “good news to the oppressed…liberty to the captives.” Or Luke 19, wherein Zacchaeus promises to sell half of his possessions and give the proceeds to the poor, and to pay back four-fold those he has defrauded. Or Nehemiah 2, the story of Nehemiah’s construction of the walls of Jerusalem for the common good of the whole city.
Proclaiming the theme of “Gospel in the City,” we came into the Atlanta neighborhood that perhaps least signifies this city. We held forth at length on topics like “doing justice in the city” and “dwelling in the city,” while doing neither of those things. When 130+ preachers come to the city, the city should be different when they leave, and the only net change should not be an increase in the profits of already wealthy innkeepers. The poor, the widows and orphans, the captive, the oppressed, these should be the recipients of our work.
Of course, the mission of the Academy of Preachers is not the working of justice. Its mission is to “identify, network, encourage, and support young preachers.” This organization is not a social service but a training ground, a kind of laboratory that facilitates good preaching in the people that I am often blessed to call my peers. And I believe in this mission. Otherwise, I wouldn’t invest nearly as much time with the Academy as I do.
But good preaching – the kind of preaching I believe the AoP is called to teach – must facilitate a good and just response. It is not enough to sit in a ballroom and loudly “amen!” a pointed critique of the systemic injustices of our society. It is not enough to whoop at the top of our lungs if we don’t cry for justice with equal measure. It is not enough to spend hours laboring over a rhetorically brilliant manuscript. We must labor for the kingdom in ways that realize the kingdom in the lives of those who live outside the boundaries of Buckhead.
I suppose I wouldn’t feel this way if the Festival hadn’t been in my city this year. I certainly didn’t feel this way after Louisville last year. But it is my city, and it is the city of millions of others, others who desperately need the kind of work that should be inspired (yes, even the lives of the preachers) by the words we were saying. Our actions – including the ways and the places we spend our money – should reflect the moves of our homilies.
Thus, as we reflect on our time in Atlanta and look forward to another (wonderful, inspiring) National Festival in Indianapolis, I have but one simple message: we have to practice what we preach.
The antidote to the aging, declining, eroding, lackluster church in the United States is to infuse it with more young people. That is the philosophy of the Academy of Preachers.
“They must learn to wait their turn,” one pastor told me. It is probably the most remarkable and retrograde statement made to me in my two year advocacy of young preachers.
Actually my promotion of young preachers began long ago, intensified during my 11-year tenure as dean of the chapel at Georgetown College, and came to full fruition in my work launching the Academy of Preachers. Our goal is to give young preachers an opportunity, to open doors, to introduce them to people who can help them.
All denominational gatherings need to embrace the value of young preachers; so here my challenge to denominational organizers: make a place for young preachers on every assembly, every convention, every conference. Religious meetings are, left to right, liberal to conservative, dominated by grey hair men talking to more grey hair men. I know: I am one of them. I have met the enemy, as they say, and it is me!
Make way for young preachers. They are good. They are full of the spirit. They are not tainted by weariness in ministry; they are not burnt out in church life; they have not lost their utter abandonment to the gospel of Jesus Christ; they do not weigh every vocational decision by what effect it might have on their annuity; they are lusting for power or position. All they want is an opportunity to bear witness to Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
That National Conference on Preaching, the Hampton Ministers Conference, and the Festival of Homiletics: these lead the way in reaching preachers with inspiration and instruction. I call upon those who plan these programs: create a track for young preachers. It will inspire all of us old people; it will make us willing to share our energy, our opportunities, even our honors and our income to support these young preachers.
“Let no one despise you because of your youth.” That is the word of God for us today.