By Connie W. Adams
The church at Ellettsville, Indiana has a long history of training men to preach the gospel. Such a program of work dates back to 1879 when W.H. Krutsinger conducted an extensive effort along that line. There was a frame building used as a dormitory and recitation room. This house still stands in Ellettsville and is now used as a dwelling. Sister Krutsinger prepared breakfast for the students in their home and all were expected to appear promptly at 6:00 a.m. with hair combed, shoes shined, ties on, and ready to proceed with the day. In addition to a wide variety of subjects, there was much “practice” sermonizing. Among those who attended this training program were such men as A.G. Freed (later of Freed Hardeman College), W.H. Davis, Homer H. Adamson, Fred L. Rowe, Ben F. Taylor, David S. Ligon and many others.
More than a hundred years later, the Ellettsville church is still involved in preparing men to preach the gospel. A few years ago, Johnie Edwards and his son, Johnie Paul Edwards, began a three-hour study one night a week to teach interested young men how to better themselves in the work of preaching. That developed into what is now an annual extended effort the last two weeks of July. In 1996 there were 31 men, most of whom were beginners, though some were more experienced men who came to better themselves in their work. Classes go on all day with a lunch break. A community building is available for that and women pre-pare the food there. The students stay in the homes of local members.
A study session will find these men around tables in a large classroom with Bibles, notebooks, and a growing collection of handouts. They move from one subject to another with much outside work assigned. Sermons are outlined, passages memorized, and subjects discussed. There is a no-nonsense, militant air about it all. One brother told me that he was up each night until about 2:00 a.m. working on assignments.
This past summer, the church at Danville, Indiana had a short meeting using some of the students as speakers. Great interest was shown. Guardian of Truth Bookstore, Religious Supply Center, and other brethren donated books, tracts, and supplies to help these men start libraries. Speakers were invited during the two weeks to deal with special subjects, but the bulk of the teaching was done by Johnie Edwards and Johnie Paul Edwards.
In traveling about over the country we often hear young men who are just beginning and who could benefit greatly by such a training program. Every student is expected to work. He will come away with the understanding that gospel preaching is serious work. The emphasis is on practical aspects of preaching. How do you teach a Bible class? How do you handle disruptive situations? How do you preach a funeral? How do you lead singing?
There are several extended training programs which have been in use for several years, such as the eight month annual program at Danville, Kentucky taught by Steve Wolfgang and Scott Vifquain. Well over 100 men who were taught here are now preaching around the world. A similar work began in September at Jordan, Ontario with Chuck Bartlett, Arnold Spiece, and Jack Maddocks teaching, assisted by a few Ontario preachers.
I am convinced that the two week, intesive effort at Elletsville is productive and much good. Experienced men who want to hone their talents and relight the fire that sometimes flickers, would profit greatly from this effort. Young men still in high school who want to prepare to preach, or late deciders alike can benefit from these efforts.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 7 p. 3-4
April 3, 1997