Renewed determination by discouraged preachers and commitments by laypeople to honor the preaching of the word were among the fruit of a preaching conference in the Philippines this fall sponsored by BibleMesh.
Organized by BibleMesh Institute student Joshua Gurango and two other ministers in Metro Manila, the October 27 “Theology of Preaching” conference featured sessions on preaching and listening to preaching, as well as an open discussion on theology and local church ministry. The conference built on the success of a BibleMesh-sponsored conference in the Philippines last year on the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
“There is a wonderful resurgence of expository preaching in conservative churches here in Manila,” Gurango said. “One of the reasons why we came up with this conference specifically though was that we believed it’s not just the preachers that need to know what biblical preaching is. The people in the pew need to know what biblical preaching is all about as well.”
The conference, cosponsored by Metro Manila’s Pilgrim Community Church, also included giveaways of BibleMesh discipleship resources and a dinner for preachers at which Gurango explained how to use BibleMesh courses in a local church discipleship program. Gurango is head of pastoral care for the Eastwood satellite of Christ’s Commission Fellowship (CCF) – a Philippines-based nondenominational church with 60 satellites worldwide – and is about to launch CCF Eastwood’s third cohort of adult students through a series of BibleMesh courses that cover biblical and systematic theology, church history, and apologetics.
The preaching conference, attended by about 200 people, including approximately 50 preachers, was held in a local municipal auditorium and featured three plenary addresses by the conference organizers:
— Pastor Ramen Caliwag of Scripture Alone Baptist Church addressed “the urgent need for preaching.” Drawing from 2 Timothy 3-4, he said preaching is “a serious command of God” necessitated by the “serious condition of the people.”
“Instead of succumbing to the pressure of anti-preaching culture,” Caliwag said, “be a diligent, but patient reformer.”
— Pastor James Chu of Pilgrim Community Church addressed “Christ-centered preaching,” which he defined as “preaching that is shaped by the wisdom of Christ, seeks conformity of all peoples to Christ, and [is] energized by the power of Christ.”
— Gurango addressed how to listen to sermons, an act he called “expository listening.”
“Expository listening,” Gurango said, “seeks to understand the written Word for all of life, in order to witness the glory of the incarnate Word in all of life.”
Following the three plenary addresses, a “table talk” discussion with the three speakers dealt with “the life of the local church.” The discussion reminded believers that “rejecting the means of grace,” including preaching, is “rejecting the grace of the means,” Gurango said.
Among results of the conference, one attendee said he “realized not being attentive to the preaching of [his] pastor ultimately revealed … indifference toward Christ and His Word and the grace He is extending,” Gurango said. Other attendees said the conference encouraged them to keep preaching faithfully in their churches rather than seeking new places to minister. Several conference goers said the event confirmed their calls to ministry.
“The Theology of Preaching conference made me realize the reality of God speaking to His people through His appointed minister,” said Jama Javier, a youth ministry leader at CCF Eastwood. “Biblical preaching cuts through the fog of today’s culture and corrects the distorted vision of some modern ideas. I came to realize that true preaching brings the listener back to the time the Word was written and guides them through modern application. True preaching is God’s means of proclaiming His will, ways, and promises to His pilgrim people.”