Photos by Bryce Hanamoto
Pepperdine’s Youth Leadership Initiative hosted the second annual Next Gen Preacher Search at Stauffer Chapel on Friday and Saturday to find and encourage the next generation of preachers. Pepperdine created the Youth Leadership Initiative to raise the next generation of Christian leaders and connect Christian teens with Pepperdine.
The Next Gen Preacher Search invited high school juniors, seniors and undergraduate students from across the country to submit five-minute videos for review and critique. A panel of experienced preachers chose 24 students, out of 85 submissions, from 15 states. The semifinalists traveled to Pepperdine for a two-day training event to receive advice from “mentor preachers.”
“There is a lower and lower number of students across the country at Christian colleges interested in preaching,” Youth Leadership Initiative Director Jeff Walling said. “Our purpose is to blow some wind under the wings of students to get them to think about what a life in ministry might be like.”
Walling said each student was evaluated in three areas: content, whether the speaker effectively delivers the message; creativity, whether the speaker delivers the message in a creative and engaging way; and passion, whether the speaker is passionate about the message.
During the weekend, students worked in groups on sermon delivery with Walling and other coaches, including Professor of Communication Greg Daum, Professor of Communication Barry Fike and Professor of Religion Dan Rodriguez.
“It’s a lot like preacher boot camp, but at the same time, I have learned so much,” Boise Bible College freshman Tristan Steig said.
During plenary sessions, faculty and guest speakers discussed how to communicate with power. Students learned how to connect with the audience so that the audience listens and pays attention to the message.
Pepperdine senior Madison Shearer, who helped with the preacher search, said the weekend focused on how to speak well and how to convey information to accurately communicate the intended meaning.
“You are surrounded by teachers, ministers and other students who are encouraging, but it is very rare to have an experience where you can just have all of these resources at your fingertips to help you improve, not just theological stuff, but the presentation of it,” Shearer said.
This was the second time Johnson University junior Mackenzie Underhill participated in the contest.
“I learned so much last year, and as a woman going into ministry, I really feel like I have a different voice that isn’t always heard,” Underhill said.
Shearer said she hopes the search will continue to grow and more people will find out about it each year.
“It’s still young, so I hope that in the coming years, more people hear about it across the country and feel encouraged to submit their videos and become a part of it, because it is a super cool thing,” she said.
During the next 10 days, speaking coaches will review the videos of the speakers and choose four finalists. There is not one winner of the contest, except for the kingdom Walling said. The four finalists will speak at several large Christian gatherings across the country.
More information about the event can be found at the Next Gen Preacher Search website.
Follow Bryce Hanamoto on Twitter: @bryce_moto