Today is a day of new experiences.
The beauty of the Academy of Preacher’s festival is reflected in its ecumenical diversity—the incredibly diverse body of Christ uniting for the common purpose of preaching the Gospel and growing together as young preachers.
There are many traditions, theological positions, and backgrounds represented here in Indianapolis. Each individual has a unique story. God is telling a beautiful story of redemption and transformation in everyone’s sermons.
The uniqueness is represented not just in diverse stories but also in style. Today, I heard TWELVE sermons. Most of those sermons came from people in different traditions.
I heard an Episcopalian preach on loving one’s neighbor well—a Baptist preach on the difficult responsibility of anointing—a Church of Christ member talk about the power of evangelism rooted in God’s word. It is absolutely phenomenal.
Wanna know what my favorite part of today was? Hearing an African American sermon live for the VERY FIRST TIME. Not only did I experience my first sermon from the black church background, I heard six of them.
Preachers from this tradition have an incredible amount of energy and passion. They are incredible, gifted orators—able to weave together words in a poetic cadence, which is absolutely engrossing. The sermons are incredibly lively as the crowd “hoops” and calls out “Preach it preacher!” The energy rises into a whirlwind of energy, which the preacher senses and feeds from.
This passion and energy—this celebration of the sermon—is wonderful. As young preacher’s we are instructing and challenging others to grapple with God and the implications of the Gospel. Yet, above and beyond that, we preach to celebrate the goodness of God. The energy in the black church tradition, centered on celebration is something the church universal needs.
I’m thankful that I was able to experience that today, and I’m abundantly eager to experience more new experiences tomorrow.
My joy is to see followers of Christ actively engaged in using their gifts, and blazing trails in effectively reaching the world with the transforming power of the gospel. As a servant leader of Christ’s church, I want to do for others what my leaders and mentors did for me: facilitate that transformational connection between life on the ground and scripture/theology.
I see the Christian faith as a journey, a way of life. Many people can affirm that “church” is the people, not the building, but were that to become a reality in how we actually function, the church would be transformed. I’m fond of using the designation “follower of Christ.” As I read the gospels, the essence of the call of Jesus is action: going, sending, doing.