Not quite two months ago, I wrote the following on my blog and it literally generated world-wide feedback. A minister-blogger in the United Kingdom picked up on it and echoed my thoughts about the necessity of encouraging young men to preach. Here's what I wrote then:
Last night, I had the wonderful privilege of filling in for Randy and John who teach our 3rd-6th grade boys on Wednesday nights. They've been studying the life of David but I wanted to talk to them about the glory of preaching.
When I was a kid, I developed an interest in preaching. As I grew, that interest grew also until I determined to go to college to learn skills, service traits and study habits that would allow me to serve God full-time to the best of my ability.
That growth came despite the fact I was rarely offered the opportunity to preach in my home church. The preacher in my home church during my teen years was an older gentleman with a kind heart who seemed to have little interest in sharing the pulpit. Consequently, young guys like myself had to search for neighboring churches to try our hand at preaching. Thankfully, in my life, the Johnson Street Church of Christ in my hometown of Benton always gave me an open invitation. To this day, I consider their investment in my ministry to be one of the dearest gifts in my life. The lessons I learned from their preachers, Willie Hill and Cedric Finley, continue to influence my thinking and my ministry.
I write all that for this purpose: very early in my ministry, I determined that the pulpit where God granted me the opportunity to preach full-time would always be open and available to any young men desiring to try their hand at preaching. Anytime one of our young men shows an interest in preaching, I will help them prepare and practice and will allow them the opportunity to preach their sermon on the Sunday of their choosing.
So, last night, I simply tried to fan a potential flame in the hearts of those young me. Maybe one day (soon), one or more of those guys will seek me out wanting to preach.
I'm praying for that to happen.
The future of the church depends on good men willing to forgo more financially lucrative careers in other fields to commit their lives to the glory of preaching.
It's been nearly two months and my prayers have been answered! The Sunday following the original post, Nick Gerard approached me and said, "I think I want to give preaching a try!" I was elated.
This coming Sunday evening, Nick -- a third grader who attends Woodward Park with his family -- will be preaching. Nick and I have been working together every Wednesday night before Bible class in preparation for this coming Sunday night. Nick has a great sermon prepared on how Christians should respond to people in poverty. It is timely, extremely practical for our current setting, and penetrating with application from the text of the Bible.
My hope is this: I hope we have the largest Sunday night attendance of the year this coming Sunday evening. I hope all members of Woodward Park who read this will make a special effort to be there on Sunday night. This opportunity in Nick's life could be the birthplace of a lifelong commitment -- a commitment to the glory of preaching.
That is my prayer!