I did not intend to be a preacher. My plan was to be a veterinarian after college, but God had other ideas. I grew up in an African-American Baptist congregation, and by the time I reached high school, I only attended church occasionally, though I was committed to Christ and sought to live a life that pleased God. Upon entering college, I wanted to be involved in a Christian organization, and I joined the Navigators (a parachurch organization focused on discipleship).

Though no connoisseur of preaching and though I had no desire to serve as one of God's heralds, I knew what I liked to hear. My view of good preaching was basically anything that was expressed with appropriate intensity or enthusiasm. This changed radically in college.

My encounter with the Navigators was a paradigm shift. In attending Navigator conferences and special events, I learned about the Bible with greater depth than I ever had. I was excited by this kind of presentation, which was very didactic, logical, and unencumbered by excessive emotion in the presentation. It often ended with challenging life-application questions that caused me to take stock of your spiritual state. I could take notes on these messages and contemplate the implications that the Word held for your life. In addition to my Navigator group, I also found a white Southern Baptist church that featured the same kind of preaching. As a result of this newfound approach, I became more knowledgeable about the Bible, and I saw a direct effect on my life.

At that time, around the mid-1980s, I concluded that this was the only way that one could effectively present the Bible in a public forum. All of that emotional intensity that I used to admire was merely a mask to hide lack of content. Besides, ...

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