Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hopefulness: An essential ingredient to Christian preaching

Last week I attended the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's General Assembly. As always, it was a fun time to catch up with friends from seminary. It's amazing how far we've spread across the globe in just a decade of ministry. I was also immensely blessed by the evening worship services. This is not always the case at denominational meetings!

On the first night, Wendell Griffen, pastor of the New Millenium Church in Little Rock, Arkansas gave a sermon entitled, "We're on a Mission From God." The sermon starts at the 40:05 mark and runs just under twenty minutes. Totally worth the listen. Pastor Griffen reminded a room full of ministers about the importance of our calling. I left encouraged and emboldened. As student of preaching, I left reminded of the power of a well chosen phrase, even if that phrase is borrowed from a John Belushi movie.

Session 2 - Thur PM from Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on Vimeo.

The second night, Suzii Paynter, the brand new Executive Coordinator of the CBF gave the message ("We can be alone, or we can be a Fellowship"). Part sermon, part State of the Fellowship, Suzii's message was aimed at those who participate in the Fellowship's work. I felt she hit a homerun. If you aren't a part of CBF, I'm not sure how the message will resonate.

What made her sermon powerful applies to all Christian speakers. In a day and age where so many denominational messages involve a catalog of threats and challenges, Suzii's message overflowed with hope. Her words were hope-filled, but so was her face and her posture. Her whole self exuded hope. Her hopefulness proved contagious. The excitement in the room was tangible - a true feat for a denominational meeting! I was reminded of the essential nature of hope to Christian preaching. Challenges abound today. Of course they do. Challenges have always abounded for the believer. But if a Christian preacher can't preach with hope in the face of the greatest of challenges, he or she should probably call it quits.

The entire service is worth watching - the children's choir and liturgical dancing prior to communion had me in tears. Suzii's sermon starts at 25:10 and runs for thirty-five minutes.

Session 4 - Fri PM from Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on Vimeo.