Monday, October 30, 2006

October 2006

Student sermon “sucks,” post-seminary future unclear
Kenneth Coleman had such big dreams. Now they lie in pieces on the floor of his preaching class.

Last Thursday, Coleman delivered his first sermon in Preaching I. When he finished, his world began to unravel. “The comments were, um, a little harsh,” class TA Eric Adams said. “His sermon was lacking in some areas.” Cory Alton put it more succinctly; “He sucked.” Others in Coleman’s class agreed. “He had no clear direction,” Peter Reeves said. “It was almost as though he had no idea the difference between an EP, a TP and an HP.”

Coleman identifies overconfidence as the root of his poor showing. “Honestly, I didn’t really take it too seriously,” he said. “I’ve always just kind of gotten by on my natural abilities before, so I thought this would be no different.” Although his classmates urged him to spend more time in preparation prior to his sermon, Coleman reportedly blew off such suggestions. Reeves relates that Coleman rebuffed him when Reeves asked if he’d prepared. “He just looked at me and said, ‘Preparation? We’re talking about preparation? I mean, if we were talking about the actual sermon, that’s one thing. But what are we talking about here? Preparation?” Coleman had no comment on Reeve’s allegations, saying, “I’m not here to talk about the past.”

His selected text, Proverbs 17:9, didn’t help matters much. “After reading it through a couple times, I thought the main thought was that we, like Adam and Eve, need to cover ourselves when we’ve done wrong,” Coleman explained about the sermon he titled “Put Some Clothes On, For God’s Sake!” He added, “In retrospect, that might not have been exactly right.” “It was a train wreck,” Alton said. “And his story about the nude beach was really inappropriate.”

The bombed sermon casts doubt on Coleman’s future. A recipient of the President’s Scholarship upon acceptance to DTS, Coleman had plans to plant a church after graduation. Now, he’s reconsidering those dreams. “Ever since I was a young man, all I’ve wanted to do was preach the Word,” Coleman said, fighting back tears. “I never really paid any attention when people told me I needed a back-up plan. But maybe I need one now.”

Those who knew the former associate pastor at Winnetka Community Church in Winnetka, Wisconsin, saw such promise in Coleman. “I always loved when he’d pray for the offering,” Eunice Hardy said. “He had such a lovely tone.” Senior pastor Robert Peterson, who worked closely with Coleman, just shakes his head in disbelief. “Unbelievable,” Peterson said. “If you had brought in 100 guys who wanted to be preachers, he’s the one I would have put money on. Great kid from a great family. It’s simply stunning.”

Respected church prognosticator Elmer Poston—who publishes his “Top 100 Pastoral Prospects” list annually—never saw this coming either. “Before he went to seminary, this guy had tremendous upside,” Poston said. “All the physical skills were there; a strong voice, controlled gestures and consistent eye contact. But, what really put him over the top in most people’s minds were the intangibles. His wit and ability to relate to everyone in the pew made him a top prospect. If there ever was a can’t-miss prospect, it was Coleman. But, you know what they say: ‘That’s why they preach the sermons.’”

Although Coleman believes that he can recover from this setback, he knows that something like this may stain his record for years to come. “Churches talk,” Coleman laments. “And once you get a reputation as a bad speaker, it can be hard to catch on somewhere else.” Despite the failed first attempt, Coleman is eager to get back behind the pulpit. “I can redeem this with my second sermon, I know it.” Coleman’s text for that sermon is Proverbs 22:22–23. “It mentions court twice,” he said. “I think I might dress up like a judge and pound a gavel on the pulpit each time I make a point. That should show everyone what I’m really all about behind the pulpit.” We can only hope.

Couple plans Halloween Party…in Swiss Tower
Jordan and Alexis Covington couldn’t stand the thought of spending October 31st alone. So, they invited all of their neighbors over for the biggest Halloween bash in the history of Swiss Tower.

“We saw an opportunity to redeem this typically pagan event,” Jordan said. “Our party offers an alternative for those who want to have a little fun without all the negative baggage associated with Halloween.”

The party will feature typical Halloween events, with appropriate evangelical twists. “I’m probably most excited about Parsing for Apples,” Alexis said. “It should be really fun, and challenging, too. These aren’t just luo or qatal. We mixed in plenty of irregular stems and geminates, too.” Other events include a race to carve “John 3:16” into a pumpkin fastest and a “Color the Two Beasts of Revelation” coloring contest for the little ones.

Another eagerly anticipated event is the costume contest. “We thought a costume contest would be fun, but wanted to stay away from the scary or gory stuff,” Jordan said. “We ruled out all kinds of options.” Outfits on the couple’s original costume blacklist included ghosts, monsters, witches, pirates, goblins, superheroes, maids, chefs, doctors and gas station attendants. Finally, the couple realized they needed to have a theme for the evening. After that, it didn’t take long to decide on “Heroes of the Faith from Hebrews 11.” Jordan gladly modeled his Moses costume for us. Even this theme, however, came with an important caveat. “On the invitation we said that everyone in the chapter was fair game except for Rahab,” Jordan said. “We didn’t want our brothers to stumble or anything.”

Like any respectable Halloween party, the Covingtons will provide plenty of candy to their attendees. “We picked up lots of ‘Testamints’ and ‘Scripture Candy’ from Mardel,” Alexis noted. “Some people may be expecting Snickers or Butterfinger, but we would have had to buy those at the grocery store and we thought this was a great way to support Christians in the marketplace.”

The evening will conclude with a bang. “For anyone who wants to stay up really late on a school night,” Jordan said, “we’re going to end the party by watching a scary movie.” The Covingtons labored over the right flick to cap off the night. “We wanted something really scary,” Alexis said, “but had lots of trouble deciding.” After eliminating most of the titles in the “Horror” section at Blockbuster, the Covingtons finally settled on their choice. “We’re going to watch Inherit the Wind,” Jordan revealed. “What’s scarier than the decline of evangelical dominance in America?”

Although the Covingtons are unsure how many of their neighbors will attend, they’re convinced that their party will walk the thin line between freedom in Christ and “loving the world.” “We made it clear on the invitation that this party would focus on Jesus,” Alexis said. “We replaced the letter ‘t’ in ‘Party’ with a cross. This isn’t going to be like those Halloween parties where a bunch of unsaved people get together and watch movies about demons and stuff. We’re really going to do something that stands out like a city on a hill.”

Dear Alumnus
Dear Alumnus,
Between juggling work, assignments, and reading, I can’t seem to set much time aside to see my friends. During your time at seminary, what did you do to maintain your social calendar?
Lonely in Lincoln

Dear Lonely in Lincoln,
The best advice I can give you in this regard is to make your time in the original languages your primary concern. You will quickly notice, like I did, that those who know their Greek and Hebrew are the ones who have the most friends. Other guys will flock to your side, simply desiring to learn at your feet. And as for the young ladies, what girl can resist a scholar? If you keep the first things first, friends will come to you.

DTS Man Goes to the Movies
Since it’s been a busy month with school and the “Great Figures in Theological History” action figure collection hasn’t moved too briskly on eBay, DTS Man had neither the time nor the money for this month’s review. But worry not, my loyal readers, I plan to use the “reading” week break to catch up and will return in November with 2 reviews. Until then, I hope you only dream in hi-def!


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