Last night the International Preaching Congress concluded. After my sermon, B.H. Charles Jr. - the new President of the Southern Baptist Convention preached. To hear one of the most famous black preachers in the US (whom I had only ever seen on-line at his Shiloh church) in flesh, in Cambridge, was extraordinary. In a way, last night's combination of black and white preaching summed up much of the glory of the congress. Entirely at their own expense, some of the most effective preachers (I know that is difficult to quantify but in terms of their impact locally and internationally that would seem to be true) joyfully meet to learn from each other. And there is no bigger contrast than between white preaching and African American preaching!
- most importantly, hearing God through each other ensured this was not some sermon tasting time! Several times while listening the Lord was at work in me (blessing, challenging etc. etc.)
- effective preachers never want to stop learning from each other and, at their best, truly support each other by sharing immense affection and encouragement. Oh, the hugs of friendship!
- different voices and styles reinforce the glorious breadth of good news tellers. How refreshing to hear such different kinds of sermons....and how it wakes you up to proclamation's rich variety.
- but, on a negative note, how limited was the interest of local preachers. One of the very few who registered from the UK (a United Reformed pastor) shared in one session how he longed for more of his British colleagues to show interest in strengthening their preaching. I know event publicity was poor this year...but I think this preacher had a point. Perhaps, some seeds were sown!