Preaching Contests

scorecardsEven though the school year is still early in the Fall semester, things are already heating up in the annual Ebenezer Baptist College  sermon contest with preacher boys looking forward to smiting their opponents on the church platform.

This year sees two formidable contenders emerging from the field of expository behemoths: Reginald “Reggie” McDonald, a pastoral ministries senior from Wichita, Kansas and Zedekiah Hosea Buckwalter, a missions major from Flint, Michigan. With such a strong matchup there’s likely to be more than a little blood, sweat, and tears shed on the oak wood of the  sacred desk.

“It’s all about crafting the perfect words,” said Buckwalter in a recent interview with Preacher Boy Monthly. “I’ve been working on my delivery ever since my freshman speech devotional and it’s almost perfect now.”

But Reggie disagrees about the method. “It’s not about delivery, it’s simply a matter of how much of the Holy Spirit you have,” argued McDonald. “Other than maybe the pastor himself, nobody on campus has as much of the Holy Spirit as I do. That’s just a fact.”

Neither contender would reveal the content of their sermon, although historically sermons on sin have always been favored in the contest. “A little lust goes a long way in a sermon,” explained a Bible faculty member who asked to stay anonymous, “Preaching on sin takes less preparation overall and as long as you stay on familiar topics like adultery, alcohol, and abortion, it’s easy to get the audience responding to you too. It also gives the preacher a chance to yell. Volume is always good for a few easy points.”

As always, scouts from major Baptist churches around the country have been  attending the semi-final “preach-offs” to recruit fresh talent. First round draft picks are often immediately placed as head pastor of a mid-sized congregation, while later picks are inevitably forced to start as volunteer assistant youth ministers and part-time Christian school gym teachers.

Thanks to Bill for this reminder of a piece that I wrote some time ago.

6 thoughts on “Preaching Contests”

  1. Oh. These. I distinctly remember stacking my sermon so I didn’t advance – made sure I used the wrong format, didn’t raise my voice once, and generally sounded like a Sunday School teacher. They told me I’d make a great radio preacher and I never advanced. Kudos for the article!

  2. **groan** Much to my chagrin, I was in one of these “preacherboy contests” at a 2 week summer camp meeting. It was the first time I had ever preached publically (not counting the nursing home ministry – screaming, spitting, and raving at the poor 90 year old patients – God be merciful to me) and it turns out I won. I still have that trophy somewhere in the attic. Sad part is that I was proud of it at the time.

  3. These were always bizarre to me. How can one “judge” a sermon? Weird, just weird!!!

  4. My parents used to be involved at a local church every year that hosted a Word Of Life “Teens Involved” and they had teen preaching contests judged by random people. I remember thinking at one point when I was older how it was kind of odd for people who were not necessarily knowledgeable or scholarly in all things preaching / bible / exegesis / original languages / etc. to judge a “sermon”. But I guess they just graded on how close it sounded like the stuff they heard from their pastor at church. Of course this was a contest that only serious “preacher boys” ( would ever enter that contest.

  5. BJU 1992. I’ll never forget a certain faculty member sitting on the fron row of the War Memorial Chapel while I preached the sermon of sermons. He scowled at me with utter comtempt.

    But preach on I preached…preaching with such preachedness that preaching was never to be preached the same again.

    That guy is dead today.

    I lost the “contest.”

    Can I hear a “haymen?!”


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