IMG_1873Each day I have the privilege of equipping saints for the work of ministry, at Sojourn Community Church (New Albany campus). I get to lead teams of community group leaders, Connect ministry volunteers and other key servants. I get to teach baptism, assimilate new members, and occasionally preach. I get to work with our staff, pastors and deacons as I serve under Lead Pastor Jonah Sage, and interact with pastors at our other church locations around the Louisville area — all of this, as we “live out” the mission of our church: to reach people with the gospel, build them up as God’s church, and release them into the world.

Preaching has always been a central means to this end, at Sojourn and throughout church history. And not only do we have a great preaching team at Sojourn, starting with our lead pastor, but we’ve got several young men who aspire to preach, and to plant churches or lead churches. So this month we’re launching our public preaching nights for our Developmental Preachers’ Cohort.

Members of our congregation will come to hear these men develop their gift of preaching. Some of them have little preaching experience, while some have more. But to grow further, they can’t just preach to each other and to professors or pastors. Hence, this new monthly event, where we’ll cycle in at least three men from the cohort each month.

This Saturday is our first public preaching event for the cohort. We’ll start promptly at 7pm. Here is how things will go down:

Three members of the cohort will preach this month. Their assignment is to preach a part of the Bible from the poetry genre (next month they’ll preach from an epistle).

The preachers will email me their manuscript by Saturday evening, and will arrive on Saturday by 6:45pm, to get set up and go over instructions.

At 7pm, Neill Phelps (our Director of Renewal Ministries) or I will address the congregation from the stage, with a few quick words about what to expect, and why we’re doing this. We’ll then tell the congregation who will be preaching first.

Getting On And Off The Stage:

We want to create a “real Sunday” environment as much as possible. Therefore, each of these men will use the same headset mic we use on Sundays. When it’s their turn to preach we will send them on stage as a worship song finishes playing.

When each preacher finishes his sermon, he will end in prayer. While praying, he’ll gather his Bible and notes together, and move to the side of the stage. While he is praying, Neill or I will come onstage to talk about the next preacher. Each preacher will know not to finish the prayer until he sees that Neill or I are in position on stage.

This last point is very important, because again, we’re trying to create conditions similar to what they’d face if preaching on Sunday at our church. Our Worship Director Justin Shaffer wanted me to stress that it’s a big no-no for a preacher to pray a quick prayer and finish before the worship band has had time to get in position. And it’s a no-no to be in the band’s way while they are taking the stage (our stage is fairly small).

Follow-Up

On Monday, I will post links to all the sermon audio and their manuscripts in a private preachers’ cohort group page on The City, Sojourn’s private online community. Sojourn New Albany pastors will be able to access these materials, to offer feedback for each preacher.

On this same group page on The City, the pastors, Neill and I can post dates and assignments for upcoming events, as well as various encouragements and preaching tips.

We’re excited to think of what God may do with this cohort, which includes a few other men besides the three preaching this Saturday. These men are future leaders, either here at Sojourn New Albany, or another Sojourn campus, or perhaps churches around the world. Who knows what gospel impact they may have?

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