Episode 43

October 17, 2023


Training Young Preachers - Joel Carter

Hosted by

Erik Rasmussen
Training Young Preachers - Joel Carter
The Concerning Him Podcast
Training Young Preachers - Joel Carter

Oct 17 2023 | 00:52:53


Show Notes

Joel Carter comes back on the podcast to discuss if and how the church should train young men as preachers. 

Concerning Him - https://concerninghim.com/
Concerning Him Podcast - https://concerninghim.com/podcast/

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:03] Speaker A: Welcome back to another episode of the Concerning Him podcast, brought to you by Emmaus Bible College. More info about concerning Him visit concerning Him More info about Emmaus visit. Emmaus.edu. But today we are joined once again for the fourth time by Joel Carter. Welcome, Joel. [00:00:21] Speaker B: Thanks. Thanks, Eric. Good to be back. [00:00:23] Speaker A: We talked about we've we've been on we've talked about busyness, talked about learning. We've talked about training teachers and sending teachers into the public school ministry. Great conversations. I was talking to somebody at family alumni weekend just a week ago. Yeah, I don't remember who it was. So if you're listening, I'm sorry. But he said, I love when Joel Carter comes like, oh, why is that? He goes, he has such strong opinions. [00:00:55] Speaker B: At least part of the population appreciates the strong opinions. [00:00:59] Speaker A: Well, today we're going to be talking about, oh, I guess I would say go back to that busyness episode for anybody listening, if you want to know more about Joel, his background, his training, those types of things. But today we're going to talk about training young preachers, training young men to preach the word, something you're passionate about and something that you guys are actively doing at your Great Adventure Church here in Dubuque. So actually, maybe we should start by you just telling us a bit about Great Adventure, what's going on there, your role at Great Adventure, and then we can kind of get into this conversation about training young. [00:01:35] Speaker B: Let me can I wrap into that, Eric? Like, my personal history as a preacher. [00:01:40] Speaker A: You'Re always free to rap. [00:01:41] Speaker B: I can rap, yes. [00:01:44] Speaker A: You could incorporate it to. [00:01:50] Speaker B: My wife and I go to Great Adventure Church here in Dubuque. Since moving here four years ago, going on four and a half years ago, the first time I preached at a church, I think, was when I was 17 or 18. That is not an endorsement for having 17 year olds preach in your church, per se, but that's just the way it happened for me. Went to a small church that was interested in giving young guys opportunities to preach and then kind of have had the opportunity to preach in the churches I've been at, I don't know, on a regular basis since then. So kind of have grown up as a preacher and experienced a certain kind of way that you develop the skill and the gift, which has kind of fed my passion for training young preachers in a way. So I don't know. I've been blessed with a lot of experience preaching for how old I am, and some of what I've experienced has been helpful and some has been like, I would have really benefited from some other things. So, yeah, when we moved to Dubuque, we were looking for a church, and a lot of things informed our decision to join Great Adventure Church, one of which was that it was smaller, that they were clearly concerned with taking seriously the task of bringing young people up in general in a church and young preachers in particular. And then I became an elder at GAC about three years ago and then became more heavily and directly involved in that particular ministry. We don't do it year round. In fact, in terms of my experience implementing the things I'm going to talk about today, it's not a ton, right? It's like the kind of program I would encourage for preacher training. My wife and I have done really one solid cycle of all the elements present, which we'll talk about. But all that to say, I was an elder at GAC. I stepped down as an Elder at GAC about a month ago when our third kid was yeah. So I'm no longer an elder there, but still leading the ministries I was leading as an elder without the authority of an Elder and without kind of that type of oversight. But I think the elders are still happy to have me, my wife and I, investing in young preachers. We look forward to continuing to do that. Part of being an elder meant, too, that I was able to implement these ideas that my wife and I had about what might be a good way to train up preachers in particular. And then we were able to kind of do it. So we were blessed in that we didn't have to jump through a lot of hoops or go through a lot of quote unquote red tape because I was in leadership and because we had ideas and because there wasn't an existing program, so to speak. So my fellow elders were like, go for it, and were incredibly encouraging. The whole church body was, well, I mean, we'll get to the benefits of this, which were a bunch that's kind of where we're at and what I'm bringing to bear, I guess, on the conversation. [00:05:35] Speaker A: So when you were 17, what was your introduction to preaching? I got a guess, but I'm curious. [00:05:42] Speaker B: Yeah. So my introduction to preaching was I was a young guy. I was committed to the church. 17, I'm probably undershooting it because I think I was in college. [00:05:53] Speaker A: Okay. [00:05:53] Speaker B: So maybe 18 or 19. [00:05:55] Speaker A: Okay. [00:05:55] Speaker B: And I was here at Emmaus, but driving down to this church that I had spent my high school years at, my family and I, this dear little church in the Quad Cities. And it was just like I was young, I was committed to the church. I've always been very outspoken, like, talking in front of people, have things to say, strong opinion, whether they're good. Yeah, whether they're good or not. So I think they were just happy to see a young guy willing to do it. And so they said in my memory, it was like, you want to preach? And I was like, sure. So I did. That was my first sermon. [00:06:39] Speaker A: And then was there any training that. [00:06:42] Speaker B: They give you, any there was not any formal training. No. Now, I was a student at Emmaus getting a full Bible degree. So every student at Emmaus is a Bible major. But I wanted the four year, 120 credit Bible degree so they knew I was in these courses. I took the course Emmaus offered on preaching called Homiletics at the time. I don't think I'd taken it yet. So this is one of the things that could be better about kind of the culture in general now, of the millions of people listening to this podcast, maybe billions, there's a really diverse experiences with different kinds of churches. So the kind of church I went to and the kind of churches that my wife and I have gone to are small, nondenominational churches. So in other words, they're not churches that have flagship institutions and seminaries that ordain pastors who then become the primary preachers in the church, right? So if you go to an E Free church and you've got a young person, you can send them to Trinity, and then when they come back from Trinity, you know they've been trained, or you assume they've been trained. I don't even know if E Free does ordination or know if you're Southern Baptist. You send them to one of the Southern Baptist schools, they get trained, they get ordained, they come back, they become a preacher in a church, right? Those churches don't have the structures and the framework to offer a lot of people the opportunity to preach. So one of the blessings of the kind of church that I have gone to and the kind of church that I go to now is that there's not a paid pastor staff, there's not someone responsible for 80 or 90% of all the preaching all the time. And so they're able to invest in young people preaching, right? And that's what I'd say before saying what could be better about these kinds of churches? The huge blessing is that I was 18 and started my preaching career and they were encouraging and welcoming and wanted me, they wanted this young person to preach and become better at preaching. It's not that they were not interested in my growth as a preacher, it's just that's fantastic. And what I'm going to talk about works really well in a church like that, where the leadership is willing to have young guys and developing preachers preach, and more than once, and they're willing to dedicate. Like at GAC, elders said. All summer, meet the preacher group. The training that my wife and I were doing, there were three of us men. We got a four month span of time and we just preached. They gave us that. And a big denominational church just can't do that. So that's a huge blessing of churches like that. Now, those bigger churches have a bunch more Sunday school classes and a bunch more other sort of teaching opportunities. So I don't mean to say it like it's a right wrong thing. I mean to say, this is one of the benefits of the kind of church I have gone to small, non denominational, no one pastor doing most of the preaching. And it kind of enables this sort of thing. I have forgotten your original question, Eric, that's dug on it. [00:10:25] Speaker A: So I'm hoping to have, at some point soon, this semester, dr. Degeeran, who teaches homilies here, and I want to talk to him about some other preaching things. And so I don't want to belabor this point too long because I think we might touch on this when I get him on. [00:10:39] Speaker B: But sure. [00:10:40] Speaker A: In a way, one of my first questions is as far as is this a biblical thing to do? Is it a biblical thing to say we want our young men to have some preaching experience and not just the elders or the older people? Right. What's your thoughts there? [00:11:02] Speaker B: Yeah, my thought is yes? My thought is, in a church, you want to be forward looking, meaning you're interested in your local church's ability to proclaim the Gospel and edify believers for multiple generations. You want to pass that down. Right. And part of that is passing down a variety of things. Now, some things, some gifts, some skills that are required for a church to function are more specialized than others. Meaning preaching, teaching and preaching, I would argue, is a skill that needs development and training and equipping. Right. You might have young people who are really good encouragers or really good servants. Right. They just help out whenever, wherever. Do they need formal programmatic training? I guess I hesitate to say no, but it's just not the same. It's not the same sort of skill. So I think the mistake, if you will, that maybe has been experienced by young men in churches like the ones I've been in is this assumption that you have this young person, they're interested in preaching. They seem to not make a total fool of themselves when they talk in front of people. So we're just going to have them preach and assume that the Holy Spirit's going to make them a great preacher just by virtue of the fact that we're throwing them in the pulpit. And I'd say there are some dangers to that because preaching and teaching is something that you can do well or not well. [00:13:09] Speaker A: So I want to ask about that because I've got a friend that I went to Emmaus with who liked to differentiate between and he would often say this would happen in the Brethren Circle. [00:13:21] Speaker B: Sure. [00:13:21] Speaker A: Right. Where he differentiates between that was preaching or that guy just had some good thoughts and just kind of spoke with some good thoughts. And so I want to maybe a little bit to this point is what you're getting to is like, why is it worth training preaching? What is the difference between somebody going and actually preaching in a biblical way? And giving a sermon and somebody going up there and they're not spewing heresy, they're a fine public speaker, and they just say some nice things that are biblically true, like what is the difference? [00:13:59] Speaker B: Sure. [00:14:00] Speaker A: Does that make sense? [00:14:01] Speaker B: So to me, like the teaching, preaching difference teaching, I tend to think simpler is better. Teaching is trying to convey information to someone. And preaching is everything that teaching is with the added element that you tell people they have to do this. So I stand up and know Paul says, do all things without grumbling or complaining and say, I communicate that effectively. Right. Like, I've explained that to the audience. Well, I've taught them. Preaching adds into it. Not only does Paul say this, but we must do this. We must. Right. That's, to me, the simplest way to explain the difference, although I'm sure people have written a bunch of books about it, but to me, when someone gets up there and it's like, yeah, they explained it to me, they even maybe did a good job, but it felt like I was sitting in a classroom. To me, the missing element is that they did not appeal to the authority of what they were teaching you, and they didn't mobilize you to do it, exhort you to do it, which is to me what makes preaching preaching. So preaching the gospel, for example, you can explain the gospel to someone. Preaching the gospel to someone is explaining it to them and saying, Believe. Right. Like, we are heralds of the gospel. So that's what we say. [00:15:34] Speaker A: I think about Peter's sermon in Acts Two, and it describes the listeners as being cut to the heart right at the end. Right. There is a change in the people listening of I mean, in that it's conviction of sin. Right? [00:15:48] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:15:48] Speaker A: But a change in the people listening because of what was spoken. [00:15:53] Speaker B: Right. [00:15:53] Speaker A: Rather than just, I'm just going to teach you about some true things. [00:15:57] Speaker B: Right. [00:15:58] Speaker A: So then maybe I really want to get into what does this look like practically, but really quick before we get there. On a more practical level, you've hit on this some. If we kind of look at the world overall and even smaller than that, just America, the US. Is there a need to train young preachers? What is the need? I hit on this just a couple weeks ago talking with Logan Matineer, who is pastoring a small church in Audubon, Iowa, connected with village missions. And it was a fascinating conversation, and we hit on this some. But what are you observing as the need for young people to preach or to be trained to preach? [00:16:44] Speaker B: Sure. Well, in a church like mine, where men who are identified as gifted preachers are encouraged to preach, so we have maybe not a dozen men, but 8910 men preaching. I think the church is better off if the preaching is better. So in 2030 years, who's going to be preaching in a church like the one I go to. Well, you can wait for someone to walk into your church who happens to have great preaching skills that you didn't have to develop in them, which to me is a huge risk. Or you could say, okay, if we want good preaching 30 years from now, we've got to do something to make that happen. Now, part of that could be sending students to Emmaus or encouraging young people to go to Trinity or know, Southern Baptist Seminary or something. Knowing that and know, we want you to go here because we need good preachers, we need good church leaders. So we encourage you to go. We give you money to go. We're going to help you go. I don't think that's cheating or skirting your responsibility per se, but that's just kind of it's an unrealistic life plan for a lot of young people. So I think it's important to say is our local church a place where a young man who we think has some gifting in preaching can go from being a novice, inexperienced, and kind of bad preacher to being a competent preacher in the church that will reap benefits for the church for decades as he preaches. I forgot your original question again. [00:18:42] Speaker A: That's good. So I understand and you can tell me if you disagree with me. [00:18:46] Speaker B: That'd be great. [00:18:47] Speaker A: But I understand preaching. [00:18:48] Speaker B: I disagree. I'm just kidding. [00:18:50] Speaker A: I understand preaching as to be a gift. [00:18:54] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:18:57] Speaker A: Now, I think biblically we have gifts that we then need to train and work on and cultivate. Right? [00:19:06] Speaker B: Sure. [00:19:08] Speaker A: How do we identify the gift? Right? If we're talking about the process, how do we identify the gift? How do we look at a young man and say, this is somebody who we should be training to preach, or this is somebody who we should be encouraging towards other avenues? Because I don't think necessarily I don't know what are your thoughts of this? Should we just be training all young. [00:19:31] Speaker B: Men to be no. Heavens no. [00:19:32] Speaker A: Okay. [00:19:33] Speaker B: There you go. Yeah. Definitely not. [00:19:34] Speaker A: It is a gift, right? [00:19:35] Speaker B: Yes. [00:19:36] Speaker A: Okay. [00:19:36] Speaker B: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I said as you said, no. That's good. [00:19:41] Speaker A: I was ready for a debate. [00:19:42] Speaker B: It's obviously a spiritual gift. Spiritual gifts are given and empowered to believers right. For the edification of the church. Yeah. The practical question being how do you know what yours are? How do you know how to identify them? I take a very unmistical view of this. Meaning I don't think there's a magic eight ball. I'm not a big fan of spiritual gift inventory questionnaires. I don't like the assumption that any young man should be a preacher or should be even given an opportunity to explore preaching. I'm not even really a fan of saying, this guy's a good public speaker, therefore he must be a good preacher teacher. I think you just do the best you can to see the signs. Like there are signs that someone is good at a particular thing versus other things. So if a young man likes seems to not mind speaking in front of people, he doesn't barf his guts out afterwards because he's so nervous. He seems to maybe have a knack for explaining things. He seems to be personally invested in the study of the word, which is huge for preaching and teaching. Then to me, there's no clear sign there that that person has the gift of preaching and teaching. But there are a few little things that should make you think, like, we should talk to him about whether he wants to do this little thing here or do this little thing there. Like give a devo to this men's group this one time, or share in this. We're having this chili. Like at our church, we have a chili cook off or a white elephant or a Super Bowl party, and often the elders will try to enlist people to share their testimony during halftime of the Super Bowl. Right, which is a win win, because then you don't have to watch the stinking halftime show in your church or at the chili cook off. It's just like you can create those opportunities, and you try it out, and you see how it goes. So I think generally that can apply to most spiritual gifts. If you've got a 20 year old who's really handy and took shop class all four years of high school and you hear that he helped this person fix their car and this person, it's reasonable to think this might be a helpful dude. Like this might be his thing. Helping people, seeing needs and meeting those needs, it doesn't necessarily mean that, but just explore it and see how it goes. Does that kind of answer your question? [00:22:31] Speaker A: Yeah, absolutely answers. [00:22:32] Speaker B: So to preaching. Preaching is a gift of the spirit. I think preaching benefits from formal intentional, systematic training and development. [00:22:47] Speaker A: So at GAC. Great adventure. You've seen these signs? [00:22:53] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:22:53] Speaker A: At what point do you start to formalize this training? Right. Do you say, hey, do you want to give a devo at this halftime of the Super Bowl party first and see how that goes and give another couple of opportunities and then sit down and say, hey, is this something you're interested in? We see this in you, or are you right away, we've already seen these things in you? At what point do you start to make this formal, if that makes sense? [00:23:19] Speaker B: Yeah, good question. So what we've done, and again, I'm not an elder anymore, so they could rewrite the policy next week, but. [00:23:27] Speaker A: It. [00:23:28] Speaker B: Has to do with scale. So you see a guy who looks like he might have some gifting here, have some skill here, then the first thing we would do is give him a little opportunity. Give a devo at youth group, share your testimony at the Super Bowl party. Those are very low level things, right. Sharing your testimony is not teaching or preaching. It's not explaining the Bible to people. So it only gives you so much info, but you kind of try to eliminate those things. Like, it will tell you if they can handle public speaking, right? So you do those things, and then if it's like, okay, it really does look like this person could be good at this, then what we had done at GAC is we're a small church, so there's not like eight of these guys at a time. So we see one of them and we'd say, hey, we want you to work with this current preacher, and you're going to work together, and you're going to study this passage together, and you're going to preach together. And it would kind of be up to the preacher. So if it's like, okay, Eric's a young guy, we're going to match him up with Joel. I would work with you, and we decide, like, let's kind of sketch out this sermon, and I'm going to give the first half, and then you give the second half, okay. Or three, four, one fourth. Or if it's like, you can do this, go for it. Now, that's the kind of it's hard to imagine sitting in on a sermon and the preacher getting up and saying, but we would do this at GAC. You get up and say, hey, listen, everybody, I've been working with Eric. We think he might have the gift of preaching. So I'm going to be up here for about 15 minutes and go through this verse, and then he's going to hop up and he's going to finish off. And we'd love to have, your know, we'd say, don't go straight to Eric and tell him how you feel about everything. Thank him for the work he's put into this, because whether it's good or not, he's put work into this and tell the elders what you think. And so just super blessed in that way. So it would work like that, and then it's like, depending on how it goes, you maybe do it again, or you maybe kind of set them loose more or whatnot. But when you have, say you have two, three, four men, young men who are in that boat, well, then it's like and this is the situation we were in, it would have been like a year and a half ago or two years now. There were really three or four young men who were in this. Like, they'd even done a couple of things okay, right. They'd done that testimony here and there, or they'd shared in our breaking of bread service or something. And it's like, okay, we'd kind of gotten to the point where it's like, we're pretty sure they have something here, so let's ask them. So then I was know to my fellow elders, in my memory at least, like guys I'm passionate about, I let Joe and know kind of have at this. Take this on. So my wife, Joe and I, is this good that I'm just rolling into this practical thing? Yeah. So we sat down and we're like, okay, what would make this good and meaningful? I'm a teacher, right? My profession is teaching. My areas of focus are the science of teaching and learning. And it's like, okay, well, what sort of principles could we use and apply here that would make this better than the experience we had as I was a young preacher, which was good in so many ways, but lacking in a few ways, and you just begin to identify basic things. Like when you're training someone to do a skill, it's good to have them practice. Right? Like, you teach a kid to ride a bike, and then you watch them ride their bike a lot. So this kind of culture where you grab a young preacher and say, give it a go, and they preach one sermon. What if we got this group together and asked the elders for a large span of time, which for us was June through September, the pulpit was ours. Right. The elders worked together to identify the book, which was Philippians for us. It was like, okay, so we asked these young guys and their wives, which is an aspect of this I'll get to, if they'd be willing to do this preacher group. And we told them this is going to be an approximately three hour meeting every week and approximately five to 8 hours of work in between each of those meetings. So, in other words, a ton of time. [00:28:16] Speaker A: Yeah, if you're working a full time job. [00:28:18] Speaker B: That's right. Which we all are. That's right, which we all are. But we wanted to be upfront about that because we didn't want this situation where it's like, everything sounds like a good idea at the time. Who's going to say no to this? And then you get into it, and it's like, you guys are dragging your feet like, this isn't going to work. Right, because so much is at stake because these guys are going to be preaching. Right? So we said, listen, if you cannot invest this amount of time into this, this is not the right time for this, and we would rather do this some other time in some other way than get into this, and you not put in what we want you to put in. So two guys and their wife say yes. So we have this group of six, and we plan out this schedule where from in May and June, we meet weekly just to study the Book of Philippians. Nothing whatsoever about preaching yet. We're just studying the book, right? And Joe and I, everyone got a binder with the text of the book, like filling half the page, triple spaced, right? Like, we're going to study this book, and we do that for two months. Joe and I broke it down into preaching paragraphs. Every week, we'd talk about the main expositional point of the paragraph. The sub points work through exegetical issues, tough questions. So just for two months, we're studying this book together. And that's based on the premise that a preacher should know what he's preaching, right. The more knowledge you have, the better. And the less you have, the worse off you are. So it's really important to us that we convey to them the importance of studying, studying, studying before you even think about preaching. So we did that for two months, and then for three or four months, me and these other two guys preached on a loop. So maybe I preached a bit more than they did, but it was like every three weeks we each preached. And because we had studied the entire book beforehand, our three hour weekly meetings were spent mostly on the preaching aspects of it, right? So we'd get together and we would split the time between reviewing the sermon that was given this past Sunday and previewing the sermon that was going to be given the next Sunday and hashing it through whoever was preaching. We communicated expectations about what you bring to this meeting, and we'd do it with them. Now, the benefit of preaching every three weeks for a few months is it's not like, you did this once. We debriefed, and we hope to have another opportunity. It's you did this once. Here's what was good, here's what was weak. Here's one or two things we want to see you do in three weeks when you preach again and you get to practice again, and then that again and again. I think they each preached four times, maybe three. Yeah. So to me, that's a key feature of what we did is that you're practicing on a rotation more than once so that you can implement feedback relatively quickly, over and over, as opposed to the more scattershot sort of just give them a chance and you might give them feedback that they maybe will apply next time, but probably not sort of thing. And that just comes from teaching and learning stuff that I do. Like, it's a no brainer in a K Twelve classroom that you have them practice a skill, but for some reason, in some aspects of the church, we just, like I said, expect that they'll just get better. And I don't think there's any reason to expect that with a skill like preaching, which is pretty specialized now as I think about this and see Nathan, nathan like the preaching group when we were at Emmaus, that was kind of where this idea came from, the student preaching group, which you did. Right? So I can't believe forgot to mention this. So, like, when I was a student at Emmaus, student preachers. Right? Now, that's all connected to Homilytics class, but at the time, it was like an extracurricular. So Jim Van Dyne was a faculty, and I led. This preaching group, and we started this kind of in that group, the student preacher would have to preach the message to the group before preaching it to the student body. [00:32:54] Speaker A: Okay. [00:32:54] Speaker B: If I'm remembering correctly. And they'd be recorded. And then at the meeting, after you preached, we'd watch the recording together and kind of, like, have at it together. I remember it being a blast. It was awesome. And that's like yeah. I mean, college kids, so you can say, like, that was ridiculous. That was stupid. Can you believe it? I still remember some things that some of our friends said. I won't throw them under the bus here, but just, like, silly things that are, like, typical typical 20 year old. Yeah. So it's important that I'm glad I remembered that because it sounded like Joe and I just came up with this on the spot. But we worked when we were at Emmaus with Jim Van Dyne to kind of develop that sort of culture, which was really good, which was really, um yeah. Key aspects of what we did, Eric, that I think are worth doing, studying the whole book together before talking about preaching. The book as a separate but essential activity of preaching was key. It relieved the pressure of getting all the theological stuff figured out while we were trying so hard to focus on the preaching. The second thing is multiple times to practice in a short span of time, that was key. The third thing is insisting that their wives participate as fully as they do, minus the actual act of preaching to the church. [00:34:28] Speaker A: Okay. Why? [00:34:29] Speaker B: Right. So this comes from for my wife and I oh, man. How to synthesize the journey that led to this. I think there is, at times an unhealthy distinction between what men do and what women do in a church, which would show up with something like kind of an unofficial expectation that men are the ones who study the Bible. Now, of course, no church would stand up and say, women don't study the Bible, right? But if at your church you never, ever expect women to have studied the Bible, you never present opportunities for women to do things that would require them to have studied the Bible, then the norm that you're communicating is there aren't really very many circumstances in which a woman would benefit from having studied the Bible. Right. So as opposed to men, where it can really be conveyed like, this is your thing. So for us, my wife would be embarrassed if she's listening to this. I mean, my wife had a four year degree in theology, and we go out as young marriage into church life, and there's instantly this incredibly obvious disparity between the way we are engaged at Am. Now, I'm loud and charismatic and passionate, but I'm also a man with a theology degree. I mean, the opportunities rolled in, Eric, like, you are the future here's. An opportunity at my church, at other churches, right. [00:36:18] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:36:19] Speaker B: And it was a much bigger struggle for my wife because the opportunities that were thrown at her were much more like, here's the potluck sign up, and here's the nursery sign up, and she's sitting here with all of these skills and all of this knowledge that she's had with much fewer output opportunities. Now, I have no easy solutions to changing that aspect of some church cultures. And it's not like a rotting, malignant cancer in all churches. It's just something we experienced that was a challenge for us as a married couple because we had what we thought were these spiritual resources and skills and gifts, and only I had all these opportunities to do it. Now, part of what developed out of that was this sort of partnership in my preaching ministry, which we have grown to think is a really good thing for a variety of reasons. One, it's great to study the Bible together with your spouse. Two, the perspective a woman can bring to bear on how communication is received is invaluable. Maybe more so for me than the average person. But to me, because my wife and I were talking about this this week, because I told her I'd be doing this with you, I told her, to me, it's like, I understand 50% of the people I'm preaching to, and you understand the other 50. [00:37:55] Speaker A: Okay. [00:37:56] Speaker B: Because I say things bombastically, for example, very black and white, for example. And to a lot of people, that's incredibly engaging. And they like it. They like the clarity of it. Right. Like, he's just saying it how it is to the other 50%. It makes them very uncomfortable that you said that that way. Right. And it feels igly wiggly. Right. Well, that's something that I would not intuitively take into account. The other thing for Joe and I was I love preaching Old Testament narratives the most because you get to bring stories to life, and that's great. But you listen to an Old Testament preacher preaching an Old Testament story. And a lot of times and what happened to me was when you sit and think about it, or you sit and read my manuscript, I'm reading the passage and then just repeating what the passage said. Two or three. Times in more energetic ways, which leads to an incredibly engaging sermon that people love, but very little content is being conveyed to them, which is a travesty. I mean, to me, that's the whole ballgame. If there's one main priority of preaching, it's explaining what the verses mean. If you have to choose between that and being engaging, choose that and don't be engaging. It might have been boring, but they might remember what the text actually means later, which is more important than them having a life changing sermon experience. That's all smoke and no fire. Right? So that was something I have developed as a preacher as a direct result of my wife, who's a more content driven person than I am. I can be engaged with charismatic, engaging preaching and feel like it's really good for that reason. And she tends to be like, waiting for the meat, so to speak. So she'd read a manuscript and be like, come on, there's not enough content in here. There's just not enough content in here. And to me, I read this passage and there's this obvious question like, why did that happen that way? And you don't address that, those sorts of things. So it's just been really helpful to us. Another reason it's helpful is because it helps fight against a family culture in which Dad's ministry is leaving the family all the time, which is in some ways unavoidable, because, like, eldership, for example, is a burden that I had to bear. My wife was not an elder. She cannot be an elder. She's the wife of an elder, which has its own sort of unique oh, my goodness. Yeah, that's a unique ministry. But I can't share that burden. Right? So it's just the way it is that we had decided, like, this is the sacrifice for me to be an elder. It means leaving home X number of times or doing this X number of times, and the family cannot really be involved. But that doesn't always have to be the case. And with something like preaching, dad being tucked away in his study all day on a Saturday, sometimes it just happens that way. But it doesn't have to happen that more it can be much more of a partnership. So when Joe and I are thinking about this preaching group, we're thinking, how do we try to encourage a culture where the expectation is that men and women study? Men teach and preach most of the time to the church body, but men and women study. And we thought, well, a great way to do that would be to say, this has to be you and your wife. And we tried to communicate to the wives, we expect you to do exactly what we're asking your husbands to do in the study phase, especially of our group. And it was great. It was great. I would never not do that again just because the group just benefited so much more from the six of us, instead of the three men leaving our homes for an extra 3 hours a week to do this incredibly exciting, rewarding thing together when you could do it with your wives. And then we want to to try, try to encourage a sort of marriage culture where when a husband's preaching and teaching, he's engaging with his wife in it theoretically every step along the way. Like when you're studying, your wife doesn't necessarily study as hard as you do, but you talk with her about it and the questions and how you're working through it as you're preparing your sermon and structuring it, you engage with her when you have the finished manuscript or whatever, let her read it, get feedback. It's just a really good way to do that. Ministry as a married person. We think. So we tried to encourage that, and I think it was to good effects. [00:43:13] Speaker A: Okay. [00:43:13] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:43:14] Speaker A: That's fascinating. I haven't thought about that aspect before. Another question I have we should probably start getting wrapped up here sometime soon. Another question I have, though, is when you are training young preachers, how much are you allowing for individual style and variance? Right, yeah. Because I would think two qualified, well studied preachers, preacher A and Preacher B, can preach the same passage. And we would say there are certain non negotiables that both those messages just have. And then there are certain aspects where there is variance. Right. There's probably variance in manuscript versus outline versus just how they're writing their notes in general. There's variance in are they using paper? Are they using an iPad or no notes at all? Right. There's variance in how are they incorporating their application, all of these things. How much are when you're training allowing for variance, or how much are you saying, well, I'm training you, so I'm just going to teach you basically to preach like me. Right? I mean, that's what I would say. [00:44:23] Speaker B: Sure. Okay. Eric, it's neither of those. [00:44:30] Speaker A: Okay, good. [00:44:31] Speaker B: So my answer to the first one is none. [00:44:34] Speaker A: Okay. [00:44:34] Speaker B: To the question of how much are you allowing for different styles? None, really. But I'm not trying to make them like me. Yes. So this is based on my philosophy of teaching and learning in general, which is how does someone become an expert in something? How does someone get good at something? And I think you start from a solid foundation. Let me try to give an example. In my own life, I took Homiletics here at Emmaus with Dr. McLeod. In that course, we read Haddon Robinson the Big Idea philosophy of preaching, right? And we had to preach sermons that way. And excuse me, at the time, I wasn't real critical at the time, I'm not real critical now. But I don't preach that way now. I don't think that is the best way to preach now, which is like a whole nother podcast, right? But I think I only became the preacher I am today with my distinct philosophy and style because I started in a very highly structured environment in that Homilytics course. So every young preacher wants to look like their favorite preacher, and great preachers make it look effortless. They're maybe not using any notes at all or whatever. It's fluid. Their transitions are nice. They're engaging great illustrations, and a young preacher looks at them and they think, I want to preach like that. So when I say you should do a manuscript and think, I don't want to be one of those preachers. I want to be like this guy, and this guy doesn't look like he's reading a book. He's preaching. So they say, that's just not my style. Think, okay. I can't actually remember with this particular preacher's group we were talking about. I don't think we required them to write a manuscript. But if I did it again, I would be like, listen, you might think your style is an outline, but you don't actually know that much. And the reason Tim Keller and John Piper can get up there and make this look effortless is because they have decades of knowledge and experience to draw from, and they are incredibly comfortable in the pulpit. And I know you want to be like them, but that's not you. You don't have as much Bible knowledge as you think, and you don't have as much intuitive public speaking skills as you think. And because that's the case, the way I want to train you is by controlling everything we can control. And that means you study the heck out of this passage. What you study, if you need to be able to answer every exegetical question from this passage, even though only two of them are even going to be mentioned in your sermon, and you need to write this manuscript and communicate clearly about what you mean by manuscript. I mean, every word you say should be written down in this manuscript. Okay? Now hear me say, Eric, I don't think you have to have a manuscript to be a good preacher. This is just how I think good preacher training starts starts very structured. Because when they get up there into the pulpit and they're new, there are so many things to think about. The reaction of the audience, their gestures, their body language, their emphasis, their transitions, knowing what they're going to say. And as much you want to eliminate as much of those variables as you can. And the way you do that is by getting all the study out of the way really well, getting the manuscript done really well. So that when they're in the pulpit, the one thing, they're focusing on as few things as possible, which enables them to get good at those few things. Right. The comfort of speaking in front of people and the comfort of moving from one point to another and controlling the length of the sermon. Right. Which you do with the manuscript. Once you do that, you get good at that. Then you can start thinking about doing a detailed outline instead of a manuscript, but not until you get this foundational stuff down. So I'm sure tons of people disagree with me on that, Eric. I'm sure they do. You should have them on everybody. Expose yourself to a variety of perspectives. That is my perspective about teaching in general and so about preaching in particular. I remember being a young preacher be like, Manuscript? I'm just going to get up there and talk. Someone would be like, Walk me through your sermon, Joel. And I'd be like, well, my first point. I'm going to do some introductory stuff and I wish that person had said, wait, what are you going to say? Are you going to get up there and say, I'm going to do introductory stuff and then just expect it all to flow out from your mind in a clear, organized way that people can understand? Like silly, you're being silly. Write down what you're going to say. Yeah, anyway, no, for what it's worth. [00:49:50] Speaker A: I think that's really good. As we're wrapping up, is there anything else within this topic I'm sure we could talk for forever, but something important that you want to hit on? [00:49:56] Speaker B: There is one thing. There is one thing, and when I talk about involving wives yes, you need to be careful with that in your church. And here's why. Some church cultures have this feeling that a if a wife is seeking to influence her husband, she's undermining and trying to grapple power away from the men in the church, which I think is silly, but I think you need to communicate with your elders about this. Tell them what exactly you're encouraging in this so that you don't lead these young married couples into this situation where they end up looking for no good reason. They end up looking like the man is not doing what men should do and the woman is not doing what women should do. You know what this is we did not run into this at GAC. GAC has been. I don't even have much personal experience with it, but I know it's just a thing about women involving themselves in nontraditional aspects of what women involve themselves in that some church cultures just freak out about, which is a shame. And maybe a whole nother podcast that probably would not be safe to air under the Emmaus banner. In fact, maybe this segment will be cut out of this podcast. But I think it is important because you don't want to send these young people into a situation where they get totally discouraged by this side comment about how are you preaching or is your wife preaching up there when we're listening to you? That could just kind of destroy a young budding preacher and his wife and you don't want that to happen. [00:51:55] Speaker A: For what it's worth, what you're encouraging is the mutual study of a passage. [00:52:00] Speaker B: Absolutely. [00:52:00] Speaker A: And I think that would be incredibly helpful. Yes, absolutely. You're not encouraging husband, you don't have to do anything the wife's going to. [00:52:09] Speaker B: Do all my goodness. [00:52:10] Speaker A: Husband's just going to go. [00:52:11] Speaker B: Absolutely. Yeah. I think if you listen to this podcast, honestly, you would not hear that coming through at yeah, great. [00:52:19] Speaker A: Well, thank you very much for coming on again. It's awesome. There's a bunch of other topics that we could talk through. We probably will, so I'm sure you'll be back on. [00:52:26] Speaker B: Sounds great. Thanks, Eric. [00:52:27] Speaker A: Thanks, Joel. Thank you for listening to concerning Him and Emma's podcast ministries like concerning him are possible because of the generous contributions from our partners around the world. For more information about partnering with us, please visit Emeas.edu slash partner.

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