VDS Feature: “Who Am I?”

This is the second in a three part series of sermons delivered during the Academy of Preachers by academy members James W. Dennis, Lauren McDuffie and Shantell Hinton.

For the second year in a row, I spent the final week of my winter break at the National Festival of Young Preachers.  This is an annual gathering sponsored by the Academy of Preachers, whose mission is to “identify, network, support, and inspire young people in their call to Gospel preaching.”  Founded in 2009, the National Festival has already reached a point of hosting an average of 120 young preachers, aged 18-28 at the National Festival; 81 new members were inducted into the Academy at this year’s National Festival, including Shantell Hinton and James Dennis, two first year students here at VDS.  This year’s festival theme was “Questions of the Soul.”  Preachers are given a list of Scripture passages relevant to the theme to choose from when preparing their sermons.  The event includes sessions in which 2-3 participants preach, plenary sessions and worship services, workshops about various homiletic and ministry skills, and preaching circles to meet and learn from young preachers and peers in ministry.  There is a coach in each preaching session, often a professor from a seminary affiliated with the Academy, to provide feedback to the young preachers.

The Academy of Preachers has been and continues to be an incredibly important part of my development as a minister because it is a truly unique opportunity to spend a few days with other young people on that same journey.  There are a lot of people talking about millennials in the church, about the future of the church, but the Academy is creating space for the future of the church to happen now.  Not only has my experience at the National Festivals given me the opportunity to practice and receive constructive feedback in my preaching, I have also made great connections with mentors and students in a variety of denominations beyond my own, connections with young people like myself who will be my colleagues in ministry someday.  The Festival has become something I’ll look forward to every year until I age out, and I absolutely encourage VDS students to get involved with the Academy of Preachers in any way you can.  Preach at a festival, mentor a young preacher, tell a young preacher, and don’t forget that the Mid-South Regional Festival will be in Nashville this year, at Belmont University in October!
Lauren McDuffie, MDiv3

“Who Am I?”
Matthew 16:13-20
National Festival of Young Preachers, Indianapolis, IN
January 3, 2014

“Who am I?”

Seems like a strange question to be asked, doesn’t it?  It’s not a question people often ask about themselves, at least explicitly.  We spend plenty of time asking other people who they are; we’re often after information like their name or what they do for a living.  But we might be caught a little off guard if someone came up to us and said not, “Who are you?” but “Who am I?”

One thing we would all like to know, but might not want to admit is what other people think about us, but it’s probably not very often that we ask the question directly:  who do people say we are.

Click here to read the complete sermon.