During my internship at Artizo, I have had the chance to preach both in St. John’s where I am an apprentice, as well as in other churches. This experience has been one where I have seen growth, not only in the art of preaching itself, but personally in my own character and walk with God. I am naturally shy and find public speaking to be quite challenging, since I find I do not feel comfortable in the pulpit and this tends to be reflected in my speaking style. Being a Regent Student, I am much more accustomed to paper writing, so receiving training and guidance in structuring and communicating clearly and simply has been invaluable for me. I feel that these skills will serve me not only in the preaching context, but also in sharing the Gospel in conversation. In the process, I have also learned more about what the Gospel looks like in daily life, since preaching is about speaking the Gospel to a particular community in a particular context.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned from preaching in my own character, is to be open and bold with the Gospel and how it has changed my own life. I have tended to keep my walk with God private due to my own insecurities and fears, but preaching has given me a new boldness and urgency to share. This is because I have seen how sharing the Gospel, and testifying to it in my own life allows others to see it in their own lives, and it actually seems to be a way to build up community as others relate to my own experience of the Gospel. I think these shared experiences of God and faith help to encourage and strengthen the faith of the whole church. Henri Nouwen said something like, “make your life available to others,” in one of his books, and I’ve taken it to heart. In sacrificing my own shyness and insecurity to be bold with the Gospel, I have seen that God strengthens the whole body. I’ve noticed this in the things people have said to me after preaching, about how the Gospel preached encouraged and challenged them in their own lives and circumstances.
I’ve also seen some spiritual growth through the process of trusting that God will speak in and through me as I share his word with others. Spending time studying a passage deeply and meditating on it through the week has been deeply nourishing to my walk with God. He has never failed to speak to me through it, whether convicting or strengthening me. I have to depend on him to provide a message each week, and be open to his speaking. It is easy to want to simply try to come up with a plan for what I will say quickly to ease my nervousness, but I have learned to wait on God to speak, even as I do my own work on the passage. Knowing that I will share his word with others has given me a new perspective in my own faith: it has turned my faith outward and caused me to see my own understanding of God as something which flows out into the community around me.