But that's not what I'm writing about tonight. Our church is in a transition period, having had its former pulpit minister relocate to San Diego and waiting for a search committee to find the next preacher. In the interim, we have had a steady stream of mostly young, incredibly talented men fill the pulpit, pinch-hitting as it were. It's funny, but when you don't get out and about in the brotherhood, you lose perspective on the state of preaching. Somehow, I had developed a small worry that all our great preachers were getting old and would soon be retiring.
Well, if one can make broad assumptions based on the men who've graced our pulpit during this in-between time, we as a brotherhood are doing quite well, thank you. The last two guys are good examples of what I mean. Both ignored the rostrum and basically spoke eloquently for a half-hour without looking at notes. Think about how many words that is. Think of the amount of preparation it takes to pull that off. And both weren't just up there speaking nonsense; every sentence seemed to challenge the audience and there were no "uhs" or "ahs" as they contemplated their next thought.
Now I used to be able to pull this off when I taught Texas History...but I had the benefit of telling the same history stories six times a day for 36 years. Pretty soon, I could do it in my sleep. But it's totally different when you're standing in front of several hundred folks, sharing a message that six days prior wasn't even in the formative stage. I'm in awe of these guys.
But way more important than the speaking and memorization process is this - these guys are driven by the Holy Spirit and are truly messengers of the gospel. I can almost picture Paul, sitting on the 4th row, stroking his beard, nodding in approval, and nudging the guy next to him, "These guys are good...real good!"