This past August, USA Today reported on the Beloit College Mindset List. Published at the beginning of each new school year, the Mindset List offers a quick peek into the hearts and minds of the entering students for the coming year. I must confess that this year’s list got my attention in an unusual way because it brought me face-to- face with how this year’s college freshman class views our world.

I’m from a generation and a place whose first experiences of this world were forever entangled in the aftermath of World War II. I like to call myself a slightly premature baby boomer. Despite the fact that I was not born until after that war was over, I grew up (in Northern Ireland) in an atmosphere of rationing. I was, for example, 8 years old before I could go to the corner store and buy a bar of candy without a little yellow coupon about the size of a small postage stamp (and I used to be able to say about the size of a postage stamp except that you may have noticed what they’re doing to postage stamps these days!) My kids became so accustomed to my stories about growing up in post-war Belfast that they started referring to it as “Dad’s war”!

So when I read Beloit College’s list I was fascinated. Some of the most notable features that help form the mindset of the entering college class of 2011 are:

• Humvees have always been available to the public.

• They’ve never had to “roll down” a car window.

• Bottled water has always been sold in stores.

• The World Wide Web has been an online tool since they were born.

• They never saw the Berlin Wall.

• Tiananmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue – not the scene of a massacre.

• They get much more information from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than from the newspaper.

• Rap music has always been mainstream.

• You mean U2 used to be a spy plane?

• Thanks to MySpace and Facebook, a person’s autobiography can happen in real time.

• Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names.

• Fox has always been a major news network.

Now what, you may be asking does all this have to do with you and me and preaching? Just this: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). And this: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pet. 3:15).

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, just one time, to have heard John Wesley preach? Soon after Wesley came to know the Lord on May 24, 1738, he felt a burning desire to share his faith.He wrote, “It pleased God to kindle a fire which I trust shall never be extinguished.”Actually, had we been alive at the time, and in the right place, it would not have been difficult to hear Mr. Wesley preach. Early in his career, he was an itinerant preacher. Here is a series of entries he made in one of his date books during one month in the early years of his ministry:

• Sunday, A.M.,May 5 Preached in St.Anne’s. Was asked not to come back anymore.

• Sunday, P.M.,May 5 Preached in St. John’s. Deacons said, “Get out and stay out.”

• Sunday, A.M.,May 12 Preached in St. Jude’s. Can’t go back.

• Sunday, A.M.,May 19 Preached in St. Somebody Else’s. Deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.

• Sunday, P.M.,May 19 Preached on street. Kicked off street.

• Sunday, A.M.,May 26 Preached in meadow. Chased out of meadow as bull was turned loose during service.

Been chased by any raging bulls lately, preacher? More than likely, not by the four-legged variety! Chased or not, don’t let anything or anyone quench that fire God kindled within you. Pledge now to go out into 2008 in God’s strength, more ready than ever to declare the saving grace and glory of Christ Jesus. You never know when the Lord will have someone ready to hear the message of the hope that is within you.

Determine to live prepared to be used by Him in 2008. And, by His grace, may it be your best year yet! ?

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About The Author


The Rev. Dr. Leslie Holmes is professor of ministry and preaching at Erskine Theological Seminary in Columbia and Due West, SC. A Presbyterian minister, he was most recently senior pastor of Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Augusta, GA. Dr. Holmes has served churches in six states, including Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, and First Presbyterian Church in Pascagoula, MS. He has taught preaching, worship, and pastoral leadership on six continents and throughout North America. He is the author of several books.

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