MB Biblical Seminary's Langley Campus hosts Denominational Leaders Day

By Laura A. Thiessen

In November, MB Biblical Seminary’s Langley Campus and the Canadian conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches hosted representatives from each of the six denominations that partner to form ACTS (Associated Canadian Theological Schools). Denominational Leaders Day at Trinity Western University has become an annual event, and at this year’s meeting, leaders discussed the results of a survey that had been sent out prior to November 30th, to promote discussion on preaching depth.

The survey was sent out to Canadian pastors from Christian and Missionary Alliance, Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches, Baptist General Conference, Mennonite Brethren, Evangelical Free, and Pentecostal Assembly churches. Just over a third of the 136 respondents were seminary graduates.

The top two definitions of a “deep sermon” were “A deep sermon offers the listener a profound encounter with God through the Bible without necessarily seeming complicated", and "A deep sermon connects biblical and theological truth to my experience.” Everyone surveyed agreed that it is important for preaching to demonstrate a biblical and theological understanding of the Bible, but just how each person goes about shaping that understanding into a sermon was variable.

Over 97% of the pastors surveyed felt that they were highly skilled or had an adequate working knowledge of the Bible and theology. But only 53.7% of pastors found their preaching to be “very effective” in satisfying their listener’s expectations, while 46.3% said they thought their own preaching was “somewhat effective.” The top influences on the biblical and theological depth of preaching were the age of the audience, and the response of the audience, with models of church (seeker sensitive, missional, etc.) coming in third.

Most of the pastors agreed that over time their preaching has become more relational, and that they would welcome help in good communication of a sermon, yet only 18% of pastors agreed that they “might be willing to enroll in a seminary degree program if I thought it could result in more meaningful preaching” while the majority (70.3%) said they “might be willing to attend a seminar or short course if I thought it could result in more meaningful preaching.”

Past Denominational Leaders Day topics have included the preparation of pastors within a denominational identity, the definition and promotion of pastoral excellence, pastoral expectations in local churches (with a view to informing Seminary and denominational leaders of shifting expectations in the current Canadian context), and collaboration in ministry preparation. The date and topic for next year’s Denominational Leaders Day have yet to be announced, and will be hosted by the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination.

MB Biblical Seminary’s campuses in Fresno, California and Winnipeg, Manitoba hold monthly roundtable discussions for pastors, many on the topic of preaching, as a way to strengthen pastors in their ministry. All three campuses of the Seminary offer short-term courses on preaching throughout the year. Visit www.mbseminary.edu to learn more.

Posted: January 08, 2008