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.
“The vocation of the “pastor-theologian” is one that appeals deeply to my personal sense of calling. I have never felt particularly gifted as a “shepherd pastor,” or a “CEO pastor,” but have always had an abiding spiritual curiosity that has led me to seek God both intellectually and in community. Working on a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree at Central gave me the valuable freedom to explore theology and biblical studies more deeply than I could have imagined. I not only learned how to conduct research in my field of New Testament studies, but I learned how to better form my own questions in search of answers. Central helped me to realize my own vision of making biblical scholarship accessible to the local parish, a vision that I hope to carry well into my future.”