There are several initiatives going on around the country to reintroduce people — especially younger generations to the art of preaching. One of those initiatives is the Next Gen Preacher Search, which encourages high school and college students who are interested in ministry to hone in on their craft.
The Next Gen Preacher Search requires students to submit a short excerpt of an original sermon to be critiqued by preachers and scholars for feedback on their preaching styles. At least 20 students are chosen each year to attend a two-day conference at Pepperdine University to receive extensive training and mentorship.
Sophomore Morgan Proffitt was chosen as a semi-finalist this year and was invited to Malibu in February for further instruction. Proffitt said she not only attended lectures where she learned about broad tips for sermons, she also participated in individualized workshops where she received personal feedback on speaking techniques, utilizing creativity and theological clarification.
“The coaches in the workshops were so instrumental in this process,” Proffitt said. “They wanted us to speak the truth that God has put on our hearts in the best way presentable.”
Even before Proffitt received the training, Devin Swindle, associate professor of Bible and ministry, intuitively knew that she would be chosen as a semi-finalist. Swindle had never met Proffitt until she asked him for assistance with submitting her sermon to the Next Gen Preacher Search team.
“She preached a sermon about Leah, one of Jacob’s wives, and I had never heard anything like it before,” Swindle said. “Her sermon was highly biblical, and she had a passion that just exuded from her. That combination was just a no-brainer for me.”
Four individuals are chosen out of the semi-finalists to be ambassadors for the Next Gen Preacher Search. Previously, Harding has boasted seniors Daylan Moore and Andrew Hicks as ambassadors. Finalists like Moore and Hicks have the opportunity to speak at lectureships and conferences in front of thousands of people.
Moore said that he is honored to be able to play the mentorship role that the ambassadorship provides.
“I look at mentorship and discipleship as the same word,”Moore said.“We all should have at least one person in our life that we look up to who imparts wisdom on us. And then on the other hand, we should have one person who is less experienced than us, that we disciple to.”
Currently, Proffitt’s sermon, along with the other finalists’, is under review to determine if she will be chosen as an ambassador. Regardless of the outcome, Proffitt said she knows the Lord has given her a heart for ministry and the Next Gen Preacher Search has given her the chance to step into the beginnings of this type of mentorship.