For the past several years Central has been involved in the Academy of Preachers, an organization that cultivates the significance of preaching, especially among young adults. The founder, Dwight Moody, is passionate about the centrality of preaching for Gospel witness and personal transformation—of the preacher and the hearer. He is especially concerned that the social significance of preaching not be lost in our day.
The seminary will sponsor young preachers at the CBF assembly as well as the ABC Mission Summit. By recruiting and encouraging young adults to pursue this craft, Central affirms its commitment to preparing articulate and compelling proclaimers of God’s good news. Nothing could be more important.
As the church enters this long liturgical season after Pentecost, the lectionary texts invite us to think about the focal tasks of believing and speaking. Over and over the Scriptures of this season proclaim the resurrection and early Christianity’s growing understanding of their God and the new forms of community.
The epistle reading for this week accentuates Paul’s understanding of faith that does not stop with believing, but moves to speaking one’s new reality (2 Corinthians 4:13-14). Forthrightly, he said: “ . . . and we too, in the same spirit of faith, believe and therefore speak out; for we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus to life will with Jesus raise us too, and bring us to God’s own presence.”
Many of us who grew up in the evangelical tradition of personal witness, which necessitated “sharing our faith,” have become much more timid in reaction to those who ambush others with their triumphalist approach toward conversion. I remember embarrassing a classmate, a visitor to my home church, with my persistent entreaties to “get saved” in a setting of worship during an invitation.
Yet, day after day marketing forays and worthy causes seek to engage us with their products and possibilities. No timidity in their approach! Attentive to messaging, these varied sectors find appealing ways to create or engage perceived need for what they are purveying. Our checkbooks reveal their effectiveness!
Authenticity precedes effective communication, and it is easy to spot those whose message does not arise from other than self-interest. Preaching, especially, is not about the proclaimer strutting his or her knowledge; well done, it is about connecting to the heart of the listener with empathy and insight. People long for a sense of the transcendent and, amazingly, yearn for that connection through the act of preaching.
I will be cheering our students on as they offer their gifts in these preaching opportunities. It matters—for the church and for the world.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.