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Expository preaching workshop draws 300 in inaugural year

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–More than 300 ministers participated in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s first-ever Expository Preaching Workshop Feb. 28-March 1.

The conference’s goal was to provide “practical training and help to pastors in the genuine exposition of Scripture,” said David Allen, dean of Southwestern’s theology school and director of the Southwestern Center for Expository Preaching.

Speakers at the conference included Allen, Jerry Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, and Southwestern’s president, Paige Patterson.

Sindey Greidanus, noted author and professor of preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Mich., also offered insights into exposition. “I was thrilled to have with us a homiletician of the stature of Sidney Greidanus,” Allen said. “His published works in the field are of immense value to preachers everywhere.”

Breakout sessions at the conference, held at the seminary’s Center for Leadership Development, covered topics such as the use of media in preaching, building an evangelistic church through expository preaching, developing creativity in preaching, and preaching from Old Testament narratives. Other sessions focused on dramatic monologues and exposition and use of argumentation in preaching.

Vines, the conference’s keynote speaker, discussed preaching from the Book of Ecclesiastes. In a chapel sermon March 1, he addressed more than 1,100 seminary students and conference participants, modeling the instruction he provided in an earlier plenary session.

Ecclesiastes is the only book of philosophy in the Bible, but it can be used as an evangelistic inroad into the postmodern culture, Vines said. In many ways, Solomon’s search for pleasure and his pessimism mirrors that of modern man, said Vines, who has served as pastor of churches in Florida, Alabama and Georgia for nearly 50 years.

“There are really only two lessons taught in the Bible. The first one is taught in the Book of Ecclesiastes, that nothing in this world can satisfy the human soul. You have to learn lesson number one before you learn lesson number two, that only Jesus Christ can satisfy the human soul,” Vines said.

Written by “the preacher,” the book is a warning to all of the children of God, Vines said. If ministers are to find any satisfaction in life, they will only find it in Christ, rather than in learning, possessions, luxury or work, Vines said, underscoring it as a message that ministers must carry to the world.

“Solomon gave himself to every imaginable pleasure, every imaginable enjoyment. But down at the end of old ‘pleasure road’ is insanity. It won’t make you happy…. The Bible teaches you that pleasure in and of itself has a law of diminishing returns. It takes stronger and stronger doses to get the same effect,” Vines said.

Thomas White, director of the seminary’s Center for Leadership Development, said more such conferences will be scheduled in the future featuring other prominent pastor-teachers who have excelled in the art of preaching, as has Vines.

“With more than 300 attendees from 10 states, we may never know the full impact of this conference,” White said. “We look forward to establishing this as a yearly ‘must attend’ event for every pastor who desires to properly communicate God’s truth.”

Richard Spring, a Southwestern Seminary alumnus and pastor in Santee, Calif., said the conference is one every pastor should attend in the future.

“We should always be looking for ways to hone our skills in the pulpit. What I appreciated most about the conference was that I was reminded of how powerful the Word of God is. PowerPoint presentations and slides are useful, but there really is power in God’s Word. A lot of people tend to forget that, but Jerry Vines in particular showed that power in his sermon,” Spring said.

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  • Gregory Tomlin