Three years ago I was a junior in college, working on getting my bachelors in religion degree. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my call to ministry, but I knew that it was not preaching. I never saw myself as a preacher and thought that my ADHD would keep me from being able to preach, since I would never be able to stand behind the pulpit for a half an hour. So preaching was never the answer.
Then in early October I received the phone call that would change my future forever. It was from my good friend and head pastor Matt. He said that he wanted me to be a part of something new, something great. Matt called me to be a part of the Academy of young preachers. He told me that the founder was a friend of his and had been trying to get more young preachers from the Midwest to try out the academy. We made a deal: I would try it once and see what I thought since I knew that preaching was not the answer, and Matt in return would be my mentor. So off to Louisville we went.
When we got there I was so nervous; I was the only one from Kansas, and I seemed to be one of the only ones who had not preached before, or so I thought. Then I started meeting people in small groups and at worship, learning that I was not the only first timer but that there were many in my shoes. I also was able to hear quite a few sermons because I was not to preach until the last day. These sermons were amazing and done by my peers. It was sitting in those rooms, talking and listening to others, that made me realize I could do it. So the final day came, I preached for the first time, and I felt really good. I got some amazing advice from my mentor and from the judge, and I left with a new passion.
At the Preachapolooza that year, Dwight Moody stood up and gave a speech to all of us who had been preaching the past few days. He said, “Many are worried about the future of the church. I see and listen to many of you this weekend and I’m not worried.” He went to go on and tell us that this experience would open many doors if we would let it.
Fast forward a year and a half, I was hired as a head pastor in a small rural Kansas church to do nothing but preach for them every week. The door that Dwight was talking about had not just been opened, it had been blown away. God has shown me that the answer was never preaching; that it always was about preaching. The only problem was that I never saw myself as a preacher. The AoP changed that, It changed my outlook on what it meant to be young, what it meant to be the future, and what it meant to be a preaching pastor. It supplied me with great opportunities, great lessons, and most importantly great friends that I still talk to today. The AoP is more than an opportunity; it is more than an academy; it is a bond, a bond that all youth have the chance to preach in a loving environment that wants nothing more than to help show a possible calling to an unsuspecting young adult. My life has been changed for the better and the AoP was a monumental step to the life I live today.
So I invite you to participate in the Festival for Young Preachers at the American Baptist Biennial this year. If you’re a pastor, grab someone you think needs this opportunity. If you’re a young adult, take this opportunity to try something that you never thought about; you never know what doors will open!
Cody Kanpik Graduate of Ottawa University, Central Baptist Theological Seminary M.Div. student, Youth Spiritual Formation Intern at First Baptist Church, Lawrence, KS