Last week saw the end of term during which I have listened to 21 sermons (each 20 minutes long), preached by students in the prayer chapel and filmed in DVD. Each student is given a different text (covering both OT and NT), and is expected to work with my 360degree "preaching swim" model (- now what a shock!)
Every year gives me surprises, but this term turned up some remarkable events. At least five students had never preached before! Either they came from churches where no opportunity to preach was given, or their sense of call has developed more recently. Actually, one said that he had come to seminary in order to study worship and spirituality. He is a gifted worship leader and confessed that preaching was anathema - "A complete and total waste of time" he said. Yet, after being at Northern Seminary for the last two years he has come to realize its kingdom significance.
It really surprised me that these five students who had never preached before turned out to be among those whose gifting shone most! In at least one case, the sermon class became God's "call to preach." Of course there are many practical issues of delivery to develop, and next term I want them all to preach without notes. But the heart of their preaching was inspiring!
I am encouraged for the future of the church when I hear young preachers like these. And when teaching seems something of a grind (and grading even more), it lights up my day to think God is raising a new generation of preachers. Isn't it great to think that God is still calling and gifting in our midst?