Saturday, January 9, 2010

Young Guns for God

I spent three days this past week in Louisville, Kentucky, serving as a mentor at the Academy of Young Preachers. This first ever, one-of-a-kind event featured 100 young preachers, age 18-26, from all kinds of Christian backgrounds and traditions, coming together to preach, to sharpen their skills and celebrate their calling. Each preacher was required to enlist a mentor preacher, and that's why I was there, mentor for Harold Sims, our summer missionary last year.

The diversity was dizzying, with Catholics and Pentecostals and Baptists and Brethren, mainline and non-denominational, male and female, black and white, liberals and conservatives, all in fellowship, affirming and encouraging each other as they came to preach Christ. Students from Liberty University and Harvard University and all points in between were present and participating and preaching.

And preach they did. I listened to 26 sermons during the Festival, each one preaching on some aspect of the life and work of Christ. I heard passion and purpose. I saw remarkable creativity. I marveled at the depth of their insights. And most of all, I could feel their sheer joy, the joy that comes from proclaiming the best news of all, the joy that God gives as we answer His call upon our lives.

And in their youthful eagerness and exuberant joy, I felt my own joy rekindled and my own calling renewed. Harold and the many young preachers I met thanked me repeatedly for investing a few days in their future ministries. But I am the grateful one, so thankful and stirred and blessed. Thirty years of preaching melts away. I feel like a kid again.