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Tell Your Story: Expositor’s Summit Pre-Conference Event


Start slow, rise high, strike fire, sit down in a storm. I learned that mantra from my pastor, Rev. Dr. C.B. Akins, as an associate minister at First Baptist Church Bracktown.

It meant 1) take your time when you start; began to slowly build up 2) gain your momentum and build up to a climax 3) hit your climax (i.e. the heart of the sermon) 4) close the sermon and deliver the gospel. He said, “Always keep this in mind whenever you get up to preach.”

Throughout my time there I tried my best to meet that requirement in every sermon. Early on, I didn’t always get it right. Sometimes I would start fast instead of slow. Instead of rising high, I would sink low. When it came to striking a fire, I would pour water on the flames. And there was no need to sit down in a storm, because there was no thunder or lightning. The problem wasn’t that I failed to study, prepare, or commit the sermon to memory. The problem wasn’t that I lacked the ability to speak well. The issue was that I didn’t understand the art of rhetoric; nor did I understand how to keenly utilize rhetoric as a tool.

It was the tool, the instrument, and the way the herald communicated the word of God to his people. This pulpit art form was filled with passion, enthusiasm, gentleness, brashness, call and response, change in speeds, joy, and pain. Often times this kind of preaching elicited responses ranging from praise to sorrow.

The African American Church has always understood the art of rhetoric and the importance of delivery.  For many African Americans the preacher’s words are to a congregation what a fisherman’s bait is to fish. It’s a lure that draws them in. Although we can “tell the story” and “say it” with the best of them, the African American Church doesn’t want to be labeled as an external showcase, one that’s internally flawed and not eternally minded. The African American Church, more often than not, has been typecast for its so-called style. In many ways this is why it is overlooked and placed at the kiddie table, away from the grown-ups, when it comes to the topics of theology and biblical exposition.

For years, the African American Church has had great expositors of the Word. It continues to produce great expositors. The African American pulpit isn’t just made up of eloquent orators. Honorable, passionate, humble, and skilled men who desire to rightly divide the word of God are deeply ingrained and embedded in the African American pulpit.

On October 27, 2014, three of those men will be present at Tell Your Story: Expositional Preaching in the African American Church, the Expositor’s Summit Pre-Conference event that focuses on the rich history of faithful African Americans preaching from God’s Word. The event will be held at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville, Kentucky. We encourage you to come take pleasure and joy in hearing solid expositional preaching from Thabiti Anyabwile, Victor Sholar, and H.B. Charles. The cost of the pre-conference is $35.

{Note: This article was written by Joseph Dicks, Admissions Counselor for Boyce College at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.}

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