Posts Tagged ‘preaching’

Training Preachers: A Lesson From William Tennent

February 5, 2009

logcollege1

One of the greatest stories from Church History is the story of William Tennent. William Tennent was an Irish-born, Edinburgh-educated, Presbyterian Minister who came to the American Colonies in 1718. During this time he was known to have planted at least 3 churches in the New England States. After years of great success, his age no longer allowed him to travel the distance required to preach at his churches. William Tennent would no longer be able to plant churches, but he would be able to plant preachers. In the fall of 1726, Tennent started a school. But it wasn’t to be an ordinary school.

This was not to be a school where exams were taken on pieces of paper; instead, it was designed to prepare his students to endure in the work of the ministry. William Tennent had a vision to mentor young preachers in the skill of preaching. The place in which they met was called the “Log College”–a ragged, one-room log cabin located in the hills of Pennsylvania. No heat. No wi-fi. Just a lot of zeal. The Log College was not its original name. The name was actually a derogatory title given to it by the educated elite ministers of England, who chided Tennent for endeavoring to train poor, unfit, uneducated farm boys, who were considered by most unsuitable for the ministry.

But Tennent didn’t think so. Over a period of 20 years, William Tennent took dozens of these young farm boys and spiritually and intellectually poured his life into them, training them in the ancient languages and giving them a zeal for souls. When the time came, these men were ready. At the crest of the Great Awakening—that spiritual revival that swept across the American colonies—these young men were sent out burning with a passion to convert sinners from the power of Satan to the power of God. Every one of them risked their lives and labored faithfully to convince their hearers of their ruined condition, and of the necessity of a thorough conversion from sin. By the time it was over, William would also have sent out four of his own sons. Combined, these young men created such an impact in Great Awakening that George Whitfield, who spearheaded the Revival, commented on the lasting influence these young men had on the Revival.

These young men may be said to have lived fast. They did much for their Lord in a short time. Being burning as well as shining lights, they were themselves consumed while they gave light to others. Oh that a race of ministers – like-minded, burning with a consuming zeal – might be raised up in every generation.

Many of these young men went on to spend the rest of their lives on horseback, riding nearly 100 miles a week and preaching nearly twice a day. They endured malaria, fatigue, hostility and the incurable, looming disease of depression . . . all for the sake of the gospel. As a result of their intense labor in the vineyard, most of them did not live past the age of 40.

Because of the Log College and the vision of William Tennent, their ministries not only endured but prospered throughout their lifetime.

It has been said that it is certain that few, if any, of those young men who were brought forward to the work of the ministry could ever have endured had it not been for the mentoring of William Tennent.


That is the kind of mentality and thriving ministry young men our age had 200 years ago.


Several lessons can be learned from this

  • William Tennent was a church planter; he not only trained his students in the original language, but he himself was a model for his students
  • A partnership between the old and the young–between Tennent and his students–resulted in a powerful weapon for the gospel that spread the wake of revival

We need William Tennents in our day. We need Log Colleges. We need both the seminaries and the training of a seasoned pastor who has endured both the triumphs and the failures of the pulpit. We need pastors who are willing to take a young, passionate preacher and release him towards a Kingdom target.

That’s why we are encouraged to hear of schools like Sovereign Grace’s Pastors College started by C.J. Mahaney, or the long anticipated Bethlehem Institute started by John Piper. These are the present-day Log Colleges. We need more. We need these to start up in our own churches. We need pastors with a vision to train up the warriors in their own church and prepare them to do battle in the pulpit. We need the young men of our day to see the value of rigorous, seminary training with the hands-on experience of a local pastor.

  • Is there a William Tennent in your church?
  • What is the value of having both a theological and practical education?

October 9, 2008

As young men who are in the midst of beginning families studying the Word of God (whether in an academic manner or in our own personal study), we do know that we want to preach the Gospel! We know that we have been commanded by God to preach the Word and do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:2-5), to guard sound doctrine closely (1 Tim 1:3; 4:16), to fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12) and to not let anyone look down on us because we are young, but to set as an example for believers in speech, life, love, faith and purity (1 Tim 4:12). We want to see the future Church of Jesus Christ filled with Bible-loving, doctrine-guarding, Christ-exalting, sheep-loving wolf-killing elders.


We Want to Begin Preparing Now for Then


We want to call our generation to join with us in preparing to become elders in the Church of Jesus Christ, whether in America or in a distant land to an un-reached people. We want young preachers to arise in the pulpit. We want young Timothy’s to set out and plant churches. We want Timothy’s to give their lives to a foreign people in a foreign land. We want to come under well-trained, seasoned men of God who have wisdom beyond our ministry experience and train us in their ways. We want to fan into flame the gift God has given us and have that gift tested, approved and sharpened by older men. We want to help move our generation to, what we believe, is a Paul and Timothy model of mentoring.


And We Know We’re Not Alone.


We know you’re out there. We know we’re not the only ones who have this desire. We know God is in the process raising up a remnant that loves Christ, loves His Word and loves His sheep. So, we want to hear from you in order to gather together and move as one towards the goal of preparing to become elders for the future Church of Jesus Christ. Tell us your situation.  Tell us the calling you’ve received. Join the movement.

Preach the Word.

On John Piper’s Blog, “What if you like the preaching, but not the truth?”

September 6, 2008

One of John Piper’s most recent blog enteries on Desiring God, entitled What if you like the preaching, but not the truth?, really got my gears turning.

In it, John Piper illudes to the danger of being so eloquent in preaching, that someone could enjoy the masterful delivery without taking hold of the content. Because there is not open commenting on the Desiring God blog, I’m really hoping that we can begin discussing it here. Piper seems to be reserving his final verdict for the upcoming Pastor’s and National Conferences.

I wonder, is it even possible to preach “Unless you repent, You too will perish!” in such a ‘masterful way’ that people refusing to repent can enjoy the delivery? This seems dangerous. Should we be worried about avoiding this pitfall? How should we deal with this as preachers?

Passion for God Before Passion for Preaching

September 3, 2008

On the desiring God blog, there is a new post by Abraham Piper called Dear God, Keep Me Saved concerning a recent book project John Piper was involved in called, Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints.

Abraham’s comments, and the subject of the book, reminded me of 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (ESV)

If this Scripture hits us as it should, it should evoke a healthy fear. There are indeed those that “after preaching to others” are “disqualified” themselves.

As we seek to care for, feed and protect the flock, let us not forget to guard our own souls… or rather, let us continually and purposefully entrust our souls to the master guardian and Shephard, Jesus Christ. One can so busy themselves with preaching to others, that they become in danger of losing their first love.

I was struck by a perpherial statement in C.J. Mahaney’s, Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing. In talking about the passion we should have for the gospel of God that saved us, he says:

And I don’t mean passionate only about sharing it with others; I mean passionate in thinking about the gospel, reflecting up it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world and all of life.

Let us strive to cultivate this kind of passion for the gospel, in our lives. Not only a passion for preaching it to others, but a reveling in the beauty of it ourselves, lest we, after preaching to others, should be disqualified.

God saved me, a wicked, God hating, hell bound person. This is my meditation, this is my song, and I will sing it into eternity! May He keep us until that glorious day!

Joshua Harris’ Preaching Notes Series (compiled)

August 29, 2008

I wanna thank Joshua Harris for all of his hard work compiling various preaching notes from some of the great pastors and teachers of our day. So far he’s shown us what Mark Dever, Mike Bullmore, CJ Mahaney, & Ray Ortlund Jr. , and Tim Keller all bring to the pulpit on Sunday mornings.

(pictures by Drew Blom)

One thing that’s really encouraged me in this series is to see that all of these great preachers manuscript their sermons (save Keller who has some completely foreign method). I know that manuscripting has helped me tremendously in not only my prep, but also keeping my cool on Sunday mornings, and not getting off topic with interjections.

What about all you young preachers out there? How do you prepare? How has seeing these notes convinced you to change what you do for your sermon prep?