Everyone has potential because everyone is made in the image of God.
Most of my life, I have been blessed to have people call out my God-given potential.
Just old enough to drive, I stood in front of our small inner-city congregation one evening and preached a sermon about Peter’s redemption. I was preaching a message of redemption, but in reality it was my message that needed saving. I wasn’t very good, but our church was very gracious.
My pastor blessed me that evening by giving me an opportunity to see for myself what others had already noticed: I had potential.
In a day when church websites look like advertisements for LED lighting, we often do not provide opportunity for the development of young people. The art of calling out potential is being lost to the mantra of “excellence or bust.” Even among the more traditional and established churches there can be a sense that order and discipline do not allow for young leaders to express and develop their gifts. For the sake of gospel advancement, we must adjust our thinking.
On that night many years ago, a poorly scripted sermon became a God-sclupted cornerstone. Brick by brick and sermon by sermon, God has since allowed me to grow into an effective communicator of the gospel. Long before I could see hundreds come to Christ, I had to see that someone believed in me. Potential is one of the most powerful and potent gifts you can give.
Because there is so much power in potential, I am ecstatic that on October 26, 2014, Captivate Church will host “The Preach Off” at our East Baltimore Church location!
This event gives our church the opportunity to pass along that blessing afforded me by the former congregation of Second & Fourth Baptist Church. We will affirm God’s work in the lives of three young men from Luzerne Avenue.
The Origin of The Preach Off:
This summer I stepped out of the pulpit for several weeks, and our elders each took a week preaching at Captivate Church. This rotation of speakers gave some of the young men from East Baltimore the idea that they too could preach a sermon. As with most teenage boys, the observation turned into a competition. Two of our GEM Program teens began joking with one another about how great they would be as a preacher. They began giving each other a hard time until I finally intervened and asked, “Do you want to settle this for real?” Intrigued, they leaned in and we discussed the idea of a preaching competition. Soon, a third young man jumped in and our duo became a trio. Stuff was getting real!
Within a few days we decided that we would host a preach off at Captivate Church in East Baltimore!
Each teenager selected a mentor. Noodles selected me. Antuane selected Pastor Rob, Pastor of Captivate Church: East Baltimore. Rashard selected Mr. Mo, an Elder at Captivate.
They played Rock Paper Scissors for their preaching order.
Each of the three young men will have 15 minutes.
The students have studied the scriptures, outlined the passages, outlined their messages, considered how to connect with the audience and rehearsed their presentations.
Everyone in attendance will receive a scoring guide for each presentation, which will list a 1-10 scale for areas such as appearance, delivery, clarity, exegesis and application among others.
For simply participating, each student is going to have a day of riding dirt bikes out in the country. In addition, we are developing a prize pack for the winner. Finally, the winner will have his picture hung on the wall of our newly renovated church fellowship hall. This is in a prominent place where all of our GEM program students will see it as they come each week for GEM.
Our passion is to build a church culture where it is natural to call out the potential we see in each other. In the concrete jungle of the city it is considered normal to be told what you cannot accomplish. We want to provide a venue where people can come and find that, through Christ, they are not limited by their circumstance. Our GEM Program is already producing some great kids. None of our kids are perfect. Their pastor is not perfect. What we all have, however, is potential.
I can’t wait to see how God works through these kids on October 26th. We would LOVE for you to join us!
“The Preach Off” | October 26, 2014 | 6:00 p.m. | 400 N. Luzerne Avenue | Baltimore | 21224
Learn more about our GEM Program by visiting the blog of our missionary, Ms. Colleen Smith.