by Andy Baker, Nehemiah Center Volunteer

On Saturday, August 3 the Nehemiah Center hosted its first training for lay preachers, entitled Eight Elements of Effective Preaching. These eight elements were first introduced during the Vision Table for Preaching Peace this spring, and were very well received by the pastors. During follow-up visits many pastors commented that they wished others in their congregation could learn this material. The Nehemiah Center was excited to meet this need, and adapted the Eight Elements into a format that could be delivered to lay preachers on a Saturday morning. Twenty-one pastors and lay preachers from six churches in Managua participated in this event, facilitated by Manuel Largaespada and Andy Baker.

This training helped accomplished two of the current goals of the Church Strengthening Department. First, it equipped and strengthened preachers to effectively preach for transformation. Preaching has been an area many pastors and denominational leaders have been mentioning needs strengthening in Nicaragua, and the Nehemiah Center has begun developing a number of workshops in this area. Second, it served to help overworked pastors equip others to preach. Many Nicaraguan churches have four or more worship services each week, each with a different sermon. Preaching with such frequency can thus become very burdensome.

Andy Baker, a Nehemiah Center volunteer who spent ten years as a pastor in the United States, shared that “properly preparing an effective sermon takes significant effort. It is normal to spend 10-15 hours preparing a sermon. When a pastor has to prepare multiple sermons each week, they have to sacrifice sermon preparation time, time spent in other ministries, or their personal/family time. By equipping others in their church to preach effectively pastors are able to ensure the Word is being truthfully and effectively preached, while being able to spend more time on other areas of their life and ministry.”

An example of the importance of this program can be seen in the ministry of Pastor Silvo Silva. Silvo is the pastor of First Church of the Nazarene in Managua, in addition to having a variety of duties with his denomination. The combination of local church and denominational responsibilities can be overwhelming, so he has come to see the importance of developing a preaching team. After attending the Vision Table, Silvo believed it was important to equip his lay preaching team with the Eight Elements of Effective Preaching that had been presented. He brought a team of ten to the lay preaching training, and is planning on working with them on these eight elements throughout the rest of the year. He believes having a large and well-equipped preaching team will strengthen the worship and ministry of his congregation.

While 3 ½ hours is not sufficient to fully train preachers, this session helped to plant seeds and provide new preachers with a framework for effective preaching. Participants will now be able to work with their pastor in further developing their preaching over the coming months and years. It is our prayer that this program not only cultivates new and effective preachers, but also helps pastors have more time to strengthen their own spiritual lives.