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Preaching Class Equips Pastors, Elders to Transform Lives

Story by Peggi Trusty
Published on 4/10/2012

“The most empowering thing that you can do for a pastor or elder is helping them to realize that in their own skin God has called and anointed them to be a great preacher,” said Hyveth Williams, DMin. This comment preceded a class on preaching where Williams recently shared essential tools with a group of 23 pastors and elders at the Columbia Union Conference office in Columbia, Md. The class was part of the Master of Pastoral Ministry program at Andrews University (Mich.). Williams is a professor of homiletics at Andrews.

In 21-Century North America, where church attendance is dwindling, the average churchgoer is 51 and the average age is 36  in this class, Williams sounded the rallying call for young preachers in the Columbia Union and beyond. 

“It is important to help those who are called by God understand the difference between preaching and giving a speech. This is not an automatic distinction.” Williams said. “Giving a speech is to inform preaching is to transform. As preachers, we are called to participate in the transformation of lives.”

Williams’ two-fold philosophy begins with helping this generation of preachers locate their own voice and be authentic.

“They don’t need to attempt to be someone else or copy anyone’s style,” she said.

Secondly, Williams does not believe in just being a good preacher.

“I have read and heard that ‘good’ is the enemy of ‘great’ so my philosophy is to find and equip great preachers of God in the 21st Century.”

Williams covered many aspects of preaching from preparation to delivery. Students reported leaving the class completely and unquestionably equipped to deliver transforming sermons.

Inskip Allsop who pastors the Chesapeake Conference’s New Castle Spanish church in Wilmington, Del., and Middletown church in Townsend, Del., says, “This class has already impacted my ministry in the most powerful way. Just the response of my members to my preaching since I returned has validated my having taken the course. As Dr. Williams affirmed to us all, ‘I am a preacher who happens to pastor, not a pastor who happens to preach.’”

Sherry Hall, an elder at the North Philadelphia church in the Allegheny East Conference said, “This class was an awesome experience for me because it taught me how to look deeper into the Word of God for the hidden treasures that bring out the beauty of the text.”

With this class, Pastor Troy Haagenson, who pastors the Bucks County and Fairview Village church in the Pennsylvania Conference, completed his master’s degree. He said, “I cannot think of a better class to take in this final session.”

After watching his fellow classmates preach, Pastor Vince MacIsaac of the Arlington/Fairfax district in Potomac Conference, “realized for the first time just what great hands Christ has provided for this church! The future of the [Seventh-day] Adventist pulpit is indeed bright as God has His hands on many great men and women of faith!”

To participate in this course or any others, contact the MAPMin program office at Andrews University at (269) 471-3514.