HORSEHEADS, N.Y.—“Some preachers ought to put more fire into their sermons, or more sermons into the fire,” said Baptist preacher Vance Havner. And Charles Spurgeon, noted Baptist preacher, said that churches decline because “doctrine has not been preached.”
Helping pastors bring fire and doctrine to their pulpits is why ESF representative Jim Vogel offers New York pastors a monthly preaching practicum. The group meets at First Baptist Church, a central location for pastors in the Empire State Fellowship of Regular Baptist Churches. With all the pastors living in New York, “we have the opportunity for face-to-face interaction and fellowship,” says Vogel.
The preaching practicum is part of the ESF’s new Center for Pastoral Enrichment. Vogel meets once a month for five months with six to eight pastors for an interactive training time. The men share their experiences, and he teaches a curriculum he is writing. He also personally views each pastor’s preaching via DVD and writes an evaluation intended to “provide helpful suggestions for improvement and sharpening.” He spends one-on-one time with each pastor as part of this evaluation.
The preaching practicum covers the nature and importance of expository preaching, getting organized, nine basic steps in sermon preparation, and a summary session titled “Jim’s Top 10 Burdens for Today’s Preachers.”
Concerned supporters of ESF pastors have made this first practicum free to the pastors, who receive materials and free books at each session. The preaching practicum has been well received, and there’s even a waiting list. The remaining sessions are scheduled for April 4, May 2, and June 6.
Vogel is planning additional practicums for ESF pastors. In the meantime, pastors in and outside New York can benefit from his “Leader’s Digest” column in the Baptist Bulletin or in online issues at baptistbulletin.org.