It’s that time of year again: spring training.
The long winter siesta is over for all those talented young athletes assembling in Florida and Arizona. Come August they’ll be pounding home runs and stealing bases, but for now they’re pretty happy to catch a ball without pulling or tearing something.
Spring training is actually a great idea. Professional baseball players get a chance to get back into playing form, while lots of fans who don’t ordinarily have access to major league ballparks get to watch their favorite players perform.
This idea is much too good to restrict to athletics, don’t you think? I will guarantee I’ve heard scores of preachers who needed nothing more than a few weeks of “spring training” to get them into prime preaching shape.
Why not a spring training camp for preachers? Let’s put it somewhere in Central Florida, so the spouses and kids can spend several weeks at Disney World while we’re loosening up those rusty vocal cords. And besides, who wants to go to Detroit or Minneapolis in March anyway?
There are plenty of Bishops, Associational Missionaries, District Superintendents and the like to serve as managers. (After all, everybody knows that the best baseball managers weren’t necessarily great players themselves.) And we can round up lots of excellent retired preachers to serve as coaches. (I can hear them now: “Come on, Bailey! Make that point again — but this time put some muscle into it!”)
Every morning we’ll hit the field for vocal calisthenics, then run through some of the basics: throwing out some outlines, batting around some hermeneutics, maybe even knocking a few big illustrations right out of the park.
Then it’s time to hit the field for some real action. We’ll fill the stands by carting in deacons and elders from all over the country to give the feeling of a real “game” situation (complete with hecklers). The fans will cheer as the star preachers take the field – they’ve seen them on TV but never before in person — and they’ll double-check their printed programs to find out who the rest of those players are.
The cheers go up as the first batter up drops a dandy alliteration into left field, and the next batter scores with a powerful illustration that’s hit straight into the crowd in the upper deck (where the latecomers and teenagers are sitting). From then on it’s a pitcher’s battle — with one tightly-reasoned argument followed by a compelling word study.
Even though it’s just spring training, these pulpiteers appear to be in mid-season form. A few pulpit committees make plans to grab some of these preachers after the game, and even the scouts from the summer denominational conventions are taking notes about promising prospects.
A few weeks of this kind of action and every preacher there would be ready to hit home runs, when they got home.
As for me — I’m still working on polishing my defense.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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