Although the course title Advanced Preaching could sound a bit overwhelming, Blayne Banting, professor for the upcoming Briercrest seminary course, insists it will be “pastor friendly.”
“Pretty much every pastor has had at least an introductory course in preaching,” he explained. “This is designed to build on those basic building blocks. It will be welcoming and open to those who kind of know the basics and have been practicing them for a while.”
Banting hopes area pastors will take the opportunity to enrol in the modular course, which is scheduled for June 3-7.
“I enjoy teaching this class more than any other,” Banting said. “We’re talking about things I believe in a great deal and things I’m quite passionate about.”
The preaching professor is in the process of writing a book on two of those topics – creativity and humour in preaching. ‘With Wit and Wonder – A preacher’s use of humour and imagery’ is due to be complete sometime this summer. Students in the advanced preaching course will have the option to read and critique the first few chapters of the book as a class assignment.
“That way I get cheap editing, and also interaction with the students,” Banting said with a smile.
Besides humour and creativity, the class will explore various styles of preaching as well as other elements that can influence communication, such as media and personality style.
“Not everyone approaches a scripture the same way because we’re all very uniquely wired,” Banting explained. “It’s not a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all sort of business. God has given each of us a voice. We’re trying to find the way of unlocking that.”
Banting is quick to explain why taking a preaching course is important.
“The need for us to hear the truths of the gospel proclaimed in a compelling way is and always will be a chief need in the church and without,” he exclaimed.
The pastor asserts that today’s technological advances can sometimes complicate the process of preaching.
“We’re addicted to screens of various kinds,” he said. There’s great value in a lot of these modern communication technologies but they still lack that incarnation. God loved the world enough that He sent His Son – not an email. There is something to be said for an embodied proclamation – an embodied presence of the gospel. But it has to be done in a way that will gain a hearing in our media saturated world.”
This poses a challenge for preachers who desire to reach today’s society.
“The old ways just don’t cut it much anymore,” Banting exclaimed. “I think the era of the pulpit giants or the orators of the past – that’s gone. You don’t gain a following by being perfect and dwelling on a pedestal and having all the physical and vocal attributes of greatness.”
Banting asserts that powerful communication today is based in authenticity.
“You’re not afraid to let the Truth float through your own experience,” he said. “You don’t flaunt yourself, but you try to be authentic enough to say, ‘Well, this has worked for me.’ There is something that’s very compelling, I think, about a communicator who’s willing to open the door a bit and say, ‘This has affected me and can affect you as well.’”