In The Witness of Preaching, Thomas Long describes biblical preaching in the following way,
“Biblical preaching happens when a preacher prayerfully goes to listen to the Bible on behalf of the people and then speaks on Christ’s behalf what the preacher hears there.”
The goal of The Ministry of Preaching Course (MIN 6302) at Austin Grad is to equip students with the homiletical skills needed to bear faithful witness to Christ’s gospel through the event of preaching.
Utilizing the works of Thomas Long, Fred Craddock, and Barbara Brown Taylor students will develop their own theology of preaching. Throughout the semester, we will share thoughts and experiences on how to best preach the many genres of sacred literature found in the Old and New Testaments. Students will have opportunities to preach to one another and to evaluate one another’s sermons.
While the title of the course indicates the importance of conveying the message of Jesus to others, a great deal of time will be devoted to listening to the voice of the Spirit and to developing the skills that are essential to hear the collective voice of the contexts in which the students are currently serving or will serve in the future.
Fred Craddock, in Craddock on the Craft of Preaching, stresses the importance of listening as a foundation of preaching by stating, “it is the person who can hear the gospel who can preach the gospel.” To hear the gospel is to allow the text to speak to our preconceived ideas, to our theological traditions, to our contexts, and to our life experiences.
In hearing the gospel, we do not approach the Bible with a blank slate, but with a community of faith, located in a specific locale, in mind. To hear the gospel is to bring the voice of God and the voice of the church together in an event that encourages, challenges, rebukes, enlightens, and comforts both the speakers and the hearers. Through the practice of listening, the gospel’s claim on the preacher will become the gospel’s claim on the church.
My prayer for this semester is that our students will develop a passion for faithful preaching. Faithful preaching in the words of Thomas Long, “requires such gifts as sensitivity to human need, a discerning eye for the connections between faith and life, an ear attuned to hearing the voice of scripture, compassion, a growing personal faith, and the courage to tell the truth.”
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Austin Graduate School of Theology is an Austin seminary offering B.A. and M.A. ministry degrees, and Austin Grad is accredited by the same agency that accredits Abilene Christian University, Baylor University, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, The University of Texas, and others. Austin Grad — one of the top Christian colleges in Texas and among the top seminaries in Texas — is affiliated with the Church of Christ and is in conversation with all who confess Jesus as Lord. Austin Grad promotes faith seeking understanding and is committed to providing a high quality education for those who desire to be equipped to expand the Kingdom of God.