The headline caught my eye: “Preaching Competition for Pastors of All Ages Announced.”
Apparently the London School of Theology and Preach magazine, a British counterpart of our own publication, are sponsoring the “Sermon of the Year” competition. If you haven’t already entered, it’s too late. Sermons had to be submitted by Dec. 31. They also had to be between 1,000 and 2,000 words. Frankly, I know preachers who barely can clear their throats in 2,000 words, much less pack in an entire sermon.
I’m sure it will be a fine competition, but I suspect it will be far more cordial than if we did the same event on this side of the Atlantic. In fact, if we sponsored such an event I think it would be less like a chess tournament and more like the X-games, though with lots of talking and no skateboards.
The X in X-Games stands for extreme sports, but that would be nothing compared to the extreme preaching that the X-Pulpit Games would offer. While the X-Games features snowmobiles, snowboarding, skateboarding and bungee jumping, the X-Pulpit Games would have hermeneutical leaps, homiletical slides, and offering plate freestyling. The X-Pulpit Games also could have bungee jumping, but in our case we’d add some extra thrills and chills by dropping into a pack of wild deacons—not all will make it out alive!
I have no doubt that X-Games participants spend many hours practicing their skills, but they’d have nothing on X-Pulpit contestants who spend years in college and seminary lifting sermon outlines, skating around exegetical papers, and leaping over logical fallacies. We’ll even have diplomas on the wall demonstrating our years of refining those homiletical talents.
The winner of the British competition will receive a free year of study at the London School of Theology. I think we’ll have to spice up the reward for winning the X-Pulpit Games—maybe a six-month sabbatical with free Benny Hinn sermon videos to show in your absence. (We could offer Andy Stanley videos, but the church might not be ready for you to come back.)
I believe we also could come up with biblical support for our preaching competition, using the theme verse 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Then again, I suspect Paul didn’t have bungee jumping in mind.
Michael Duduit is founder and executive editor of Preaching and serves as dean of the College of Christian Studies and Clamp Divinity School at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelDuduit.