Sophomore Austin Presnell was selected as a semi-finalist in the Next Gen Preacher Search, a national competition for future preachers started by the North American Christian Convention. Presnell was one of 40 semi-finalists selected from the nation-wide search.
“If you’re a semi-finalist, you get to go to a two-and-a-half day workshop at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California,” he said. “You’re paired up with a mentor from somewhere in the US. You work on a new sermon and at the end of the workshop, everyone films their new sermon.”
Presnell’s video focused on Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” He delivered a five minute sermon before he was critiqued by judges.
“It was right after I got back from [the Spain mission trip during] Jterm,” he said. “A lot of what I learned on Jterm in Spain kind of bled through – the idea of serving others according to their needs, including your words.”
After the videos were submitted, four out of the 40 semi-finalists were selected to preach at different venues across the United States. Some venues could hold 10,000-25,000 people, Presnell said.
He was not selected as a finalist, but Presnell said he learned a lot from the competition.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “I learned a ton. I’m still in contact with a lot of the people on there, expanding my network exponentially. … I learned a lot through the whole process, a lot about humility, just being scared and learned a lot about rejection.”
The youth ministries major plans on submitting another video next year and is encouraging other university students to join the competition. He has already been contacted by potential seminaries – even though he is two years from graduation. Presnell won second place at the annual Davis Halls Follies competition Oct. 2014 with a spoken word piece.
“I love speaking,” he said. “It’s what I want to do.”