I have been preaching for a while. My first sermon was when my family lived on Guam. I filled in on Sunday morning for the preacher; if I recall correctly, his wife was in the hospital. When we moved to Mountain Home, Idaho there were many occasions for me to preach; in effect, when our local preacher moved south I became the preacher. This lasted until one of the brothers picked up the mantle and did most of it from that particular point. Having returned from Saudi Arabia, I was discharged from the United States Air Force (honorably) and enrolled in the East Tennessee School of Preaching (Knoxville). Each weekend, while a student, I was preaching at one of the smaller congregations in the area (or region of NC, TN, KY, AL) that were in need of a preacher; some of the congregations in these areas just wanted to support the school’s effort by encouraging the preacher-students. After graduating from ETSOP my family moved to Jerome, Idaho, and lived there for just under three years. From there we moved to Sullivan, IL. We have lived here since June 1998.
In brief, that is my background to the experience and length of time I have been preaching. I have been a student of God’s Word, however, since I was converted to Christ (1983); but it has been since 1993 that I have been a full-time student of the Lord’s Word serving as a preacher; I do not anticipate this changing until I take my last breath.
Recently, I have had reason to reflect upon my preaching, the work of a preacher and the craft of preaching. I have a number of books in my library, but of late, I have been reading Tom Holland’s (TH) books on the topic. To me, TH is an exceptional preacher; one whose standard I have placed so high that at my best I will not meet his level. Since about 2003 or 2004 I have been going to Columbia TN for a preacher’s retreat; this retreat is now identified as the Columbia Bible Institute (CBI). It is the work of the Graymere church of Christ. The initial directors of the retreat/seminar were Tom Holland and William Woodson. With the passing of brother Woodson, the mantle fell on John Vaughan. CBI is focused on giving preachers encouragement in their work; it is a series of presentations by men who have preached for a length of time that are expository of biblical text, explications of biblical topics, and even some that are technical in nature; the all-around thrust is encouragement, however. It is a time for the men to gather together and share ideas, war-stories, laments, and even scouting.
For the next six essays I would like to share some of my thoughts relative to the work of a preaching and preaching.