During seminary, you’ll develop a unique set of skills. You’ll be able to parse every Greek verb in the New Testament, list the minor prophets in canonical and chronological order, create Turabian or APA style footnotes in a flash, and meet deadlines you thought weren’t humanly possible. But if you’re like me, you may be interested in doing some integrative work on the side, and sharpening some of your ministerial skills. I could give a number of examples, but let me give you a couple of pointers for developing as a preacher during seminary. (I want to preach. Perhaps you are going to learn something else, in which case, practice that!)
1. Personal preaching podcast. I’m a firm believer that people’s primary instruction and exhortation should come from the pulpit of their own church. The world is spilling over with people like me who write blog posts and try to win complete strangers to my ideas. But the thing is, most of my writing isn’t for people like you; it’s for me!
I’ve set a goal for myself to, every Saturday morning, reflect on one of the biblical passages or doctrines I’ve studied in class, pull out a bite-sized idea, and outline a brief, five-minute sermonette. Then I flip open my laptop, stand up, and practice delivering my speech into the PhotoBooth app. I have my own private podcast — which I share with no one! — full of my little sermons. I’ve learned how to communicate ideas clearly and with few words, how to write notes that are effective for speaking, and how to think pastorally about what I learn in class. Plus, they’ll be great to look back on and laugh at one day.
2. Plant a fake church. My friends and I actually did this, and we called it “Fake Church.” There were a bunch of us wanna-be preachers who didn’t have pulpits to practice in. So, we met every Thursday night and took turns delivering sermons. Others of us practice public prayer and public Scripture reading. Others of us practiced songwriting and liturgy-crafting. It is, if you will, a “sandbox.” You play in it, build stuff, and when it blows over there are no serious consequences. Law students have mock trial — this is a great option for seminarians!
Plus, it’s an incredible way to build community — a group of godly, budding Christian leaders submitting themselves to each other’s preaching and asking one another for prayer.
Demosthenes was an ancient Greek orator who never used to be that good at speaking. What he would do was go to the coast, fill his mouth with rocks, and try to speak over the sound of the water. The result, as you may have guessed, was the development of the finest orator of his day! The difference between him and seminarians is just, perhaps, that we’re content to pass our single homiletics class and move on.
By Jack Franicevich Jack is an MDiv student at Denver Seminary. His interests range from the doctrine of the church, theologies of friendship and work, preaching, hymn-writing, and grassroots ecumenism to competitive table tennis, cooking for large groups, classical literature, and organizational development.