Are you born a preacher or can you be taught?
This is a question I was asked at a workshop today. Although a person can be born with certain innate and inherited gifts which are useful for preaching, they cannot be born a preacher, surely? I say this because preaching is borne out of a calling from God. That calling is discerned by the individual, tested by the body of the Church, and refined within the shared life of the Christian community. Along the way it is shaped by the experience of success and failure in the preaching enterprise, and moulded by the preacher’s own life journey.
That said, there is every reason for those called to preach to learn, train and maximise their abilities. This, after all, is the message of the Parable of the Talents. A gift from God, such as the ability to preach, should not be neglected, or even just left to its own devices. Instead, we have a duty to make the most of it that we possibly can.
Without a calling, a preacher cannot be created through teaching and training alone. With a calling, an aspiring preacher can be turned into an inspiring one – though it will take a lot more than teaching alone to do so!