If a group of ministers were asked who most influenced their preaching, some would certainly say a childhood minister or a seminary professor. Others might refer to courses they took in seminary or even books that were helpful. Many might answer, however, that their congregations taught them.
Various congregations taught me to preach. The first one was the people of Yellowstone Park. In the summer after my first year as a student at Union Theological Seminary, I was employed as a chaplain for the Christian Ministry in National Parks, organized by the National Council of Churches of America. I was assigned to the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone Park. I preached twice on Sundays at different locations to tourists and employees. When I was an associate pastor in Rochester, I preached perhaps a dozen times. Of course, when I became the pastor in Lawrenceville, I preached about 45 times a year for the first several years, and then, as we added student interns and an associate ...1