I never took a class in preaching; I don’t remember anyone talking to me about preaching; I am sure I did not read anything about preaching. Given this, it is a wonder that anybody had the grit to sit through one of my so-called sermons.
If you are like me that could happen at the age of 15; which it did, when I walked down a church aisle, told the preacher God was calling me into the ministry, and the congregation promptly voted to license me as a young preacher.
License is a form of endorsement and is meant to begin the process toward ordination. It was 12 years later before the ordination happened: after high school, college and seminary.
But in between my pastor paid little attention to me; an elderly woman in the church gave me money to buy books; a pastor during my college days took me under his wing. Other than the guidance of my parents, this was about the only mentoring I had during those dozen years.
It would have been different if I had declared an interest in farming. I could have joined Future Farmers of America, attended all sorts of events, and tried my hand at one project after another, including annual trips to the state fair.
If I wanted to play percussion in, for instance, the Boston Pops, I could have worked toward that goal by playing in a whole series of musical groups, from the high school band (where I did learn to play the drums) to the youth symphony that performs as part of the Governor’s School of the Arts.
But for the young preacher, there was nothing.
Young boys in the independent Christian church denomination can sign up for an annual preaching competition held every year at their North American Christian Convention. I have a nephew who did that.
If I were African American, I might get the opportunity to preach in the middle of the night at one of their many national gatherings ”long after the men finish preaching (and they don’t finish until midnight). And once I got to seminary I could enter a sermon manuscript in the competition sponsored by the African American Pulpit.
True: I did get to speak to the youth prayer meeting, and once or twice on Sunday morning when the church had Youth Sunday. When I got to college, they were always looking for young preacher boys to lead a weekend revival team of students, and I did that a lot.
But I never took a class in preaching; I don’t remember anyone talking to me about preaching; I am sure I did not read anything about preaching. Given this, it is a wonder that anybody had the grit to sit through one of my so-called sermons.
Which is why ”partly ”I am launching The Academy of Preachers.
Another reason is this: For 11 years I have been teaching the “Communication for Ministry” class at Georgetown College. Kids knew it as the preaching class. I have a decade of experience with students who have a passion for preaching.
So I am using some of them ”and a dozen others ”to help shape this new opportunity for young people who want to preach. St. Matthews Baptist Church of Louisville is sponsoring it, and the Lilly Endowment of Indianapolis is funding it.
In my next column, I will tell you how The Academy of Preachers has come to be the focus of my life work.
Dwight Moody is a writer, preacher and professor living in Lexington, Ky. This column appeared previously on his blog.