Many of the young preachers here have studied homiletics and preached many sermons before coming to the festival. Our Central students, Kim and Matt, however, are both relatively new to the art. Actually, strike “relatively.” Matt’s last sermon was 5 years ago and Kimberly’s first sermon was yet to be preached when we signed in last night.
Today, however, they preached like pros. I was inspired, impressed, and really proud. Matt demonstrated skillful exegesis and genuine sensitivity as he tackled the conference theme, “Questions of the Soul,” using the Matthean story of the Canaanite woman. Kimberly rocked her audience using a pencil metaphor to illuminate a 1Corinthians text on how the foolish shame the wise.
No matter how much we might say that this is not a competition and there’s no reason to be anxious, it is not easy to stand up in front of a room full of peers, mentors and a professional critiquer. I am grateful to these two outstanding students for their willingness to give up a holiday and travel to bitterly cold Indianapolis to test and stretch their skill in preaching. When not in the pulpit, I see them befriending and encouraging others.
We have a professional Central exhibit set up with free pens and everything, but our students are the best testimony to the quality and promise of our seminary. Those who feel discouraged about the future of the church should meet Kim and Matt and come to the Festival of Young Preachers.
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.