June 14, 2017 | Kerusso Experience |
Since 2013, the Center for Preaching in the College of Bible and Ministry has hosted the Kerusso Experience, a preacher training camp for high school boys in the ninth through 12th grades. As the fourth year of the program begins, it has seen more than 100 students, many of whom have graduated high school and chosen to attend Harding as a Bible major.
This year’s theme, Kingdom Come, focuses on the Sermon on the Mount. Throughout the week, students dissect and analyze parts of the sermon and translate that into a sermon they will deliver at the end of the week.
Dr. Devin Swindle, assistant professor of Bible and ministry, is the director of Kerusso and started the program as part of his doctoral dissertation. Swindle said the Sermon on the Mount provides an incredible learning opportunity for the students.
“The sermon really highlights what it looks like to live as citizens of the kingdom of God,” Swindle said. “It’s not just counter cultural; it’s counter intuitive. We’re excited about the powerful texts and great sermons that our students are getting to better understand.”
Each day, students are involved in an hour-and-a-half long, in-depth Bible study and an hour-and-a-half of homiletics — an introduction to preaching. During the week, students learn from current Harding Bible majors and a keynote speaker.
For the second year, Kerusso is offered at two locations — Camp Neo-O-Tez in St. Louis and Harding’s campus. Dr. Ross Cochran, professor of Bible, was the speaker at the St. Louis session, and Randy Harris, Harding graduate and instructor of Bible, missions and ministry at Abilene Christian University, is leading the Harding session.
According to Swindle, the idea for the Kerusso Experience came in 2013 when the Center for Preaching was established to help bring up students as full-time ministers or integral parts of the church.
“Who is saying to these kids, ‘Have you ever considered ministry? You seem to have the gifts for it’?” Swindle said. “Well, we’re going to say that. I want these students to also know that you need to serve the church no matter where you are or what you’re doing. You don’t always have to go into full-time ministry.”
In addition to the preaching and ministry experiences, Swindle said students are also able to enjoy the classic camp experience. For the St. Louis students, they visited the St. Louis Zoo, The City Museum and attended a St. Louis Cardinals game.
The big takeaway at the end of the week for Swindle is that these students see how practical their lives as Christians and possible ministers can be evident in all areas of the kingdom of God.
“I want to help raise up a generation of students who take seriously their work in the kingdom of God no matter what they do for a living,” Swindle said. “This will help them be a leader in their youth group, in their church and in their school.”
Since its inception, the program has seen 107 students from nine different states and Belize. Swindle said he has high hopes for the program’s expansion, and he and others are already talking about how Kerusso can grow beyond just St. Louis and Searcy. For more information on the program, visit https://www.harding.edu/kerusso.