What is the purpose of the James
River Center for Expository Preaching?
Klaus: The purpose of the center is connected to the mission
of AGTS—to shape servant leaders with knowledge, skill
and passion to evangelize the world and revitalize the church
in the power of the Spirit. We have witnessed the power of
expository preaching in the pastoral ministries of Dr. George
Wood (chairperson, AGTS Board of Directors) and Dr. Dick Dresselhaus
(vice chairperson, AGTS Board of Directors). Dr. Doug Oss (the
center’s director) utilized expository preaching to plant
a successful church against all odds in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Most recently, we have witnessed it in the miraculous growth
of James River Assembly under the leadership of Pastor John
Lindell. This center will allow us to shape servant leaders
as competent expositors of God’s word, giving them a
thorough knowledge necessary to interpret it, teaching skills
to communicate it effectively, and instilling a Spirit-kindled
passion to proclaim it.
Lindell: By partnering with AGTS to create the center, we
wanted to help build a top-drawer, Pentecostal program that
would fill the current and future pulpits of our local churches
with expository preachers. There are only a few seminaries
in the world that have made expositional preaching their focus.
None of them are Pentecostal. So, the purpose of the center
is to train current and future preachers in the art and science
of expository preaching while maintaining our distinct Pentecostal
emphasis and reliance upon the Spirit. And training is key.
The center is not being created so that we can simply talk
about preaching. It’s being created so that students
can learn to preach by actually preaching in class under the
watchful eye of the professor and fellow students. It is in-service
training, and the end result will be students who know, from
experience, how to preach.
Dr. Klaus, what is your vision of AGTS in regards to partnerships
with local churches like James River?
Klaus: Unfortunately, history has painted a picture of local
churches and their training institutions as ships passing in
the night. I don’t believe it has to be like that. This
partnership is one that can foster a network of resources to
serve the church that we all love. As our name illustrates,
we have a responsibility to serve the Assemblies of God and
its local churches by preparing men and women to minister in
the local church context. Links between the seminary and local
churches help us produce ministers who meet the needs of the
local church. In this case, AGTS strongly agrees with James
River on the issue of expository preaching. James River’s
deep commitment to expository preaching can fuel a re-emphasis
on preaching here and make sure that graduates of AGTS are
known as solid expository preachers. This partnership allows
both James River and AGTS more long-term effectiveness in broader
publics than either could have apart from each other. Pastor
Lindell and I look forward to seeing other pastors and churches
partner with AGTS.
Pastor Lindell, can you explain the role that expository preaching
has played in the success and growth of James River Assembly?
Lindell: Expository preaching has
been foundational to James River Assembly’s growth and
health. I am continually amazed at the power of God’s
Word to mature people in Christ. When people receive systematic,
verse-by-verse teaching on a weekly basis, it produces a health
that can’t be
attained any other way. I am convinced that people are hungry
for the Word of God. They want to know what it means and how
it applies to them on Monday morning. I am equally convinced
that God loves it when we preach his Word line by line and
precept by precept. We’ve done it for 13 years at James
River Assembly and have stood back and watched God grow his
How will James River be involved in the program?
Klaus: James River Assembly is crucial to everything that
will happen at the center. They are the case study—the
place where the reality of expository preaching has built an
effective and powerful church. The curriculum, coaching and
mentoring will be done in cooperation with the James River
What will the center offer to the church at large?
Lindell: The greatest thing it will offer to the church is
men and women who are gifted and ready to preach.
Klaus: In addition to the for-credit programs, we will offer
a cohort-based certificate program for people who simply want
to enhance their preaching skills without earning a degree.
We will have seminars in which key preachers will meet with
the James River and AGTS staff to sharpen their skills. In
the future, we will create a cohort just for younger leaders.
Mentoring, coaching and networking will all be a part of a
broader dimension for people who are already in ministry. Also,
there will be conferences in the not-too-distant future that
will highlight the work of the center.
Who is eligible to enter the degree program?
Castleberry: Any man or woman who is interested in earning
a degree and meets the admissions requirements is eligible
to enter an AGTS degree program. We will offer expository preaching
courses in almost every program; however, the concentration
will only be offered through the M.Div. program. Students who
cannot move to Springfield to study may want to take modular
courses as part of our Master of Arts in Christian Ministry
What will the program offer students?
Castleberry: Students who study in this program will gain
a set of skills that will guarantee a lifetime of preaching
material. The very nature of expository preaching involves
a method of research and planning that takes a lot of the stress
out of figuring out what to preach. Students who take the M.Div.
program with a concentration in expository preaching will get
a solid foundation in Greek and Hebrew and thorough knowledge
of Scripture. They will be thoroughly trained in how to preach
through the different kinds of literature in the Old and New
Testaments. They will learn how to pull the structure of their
sermons out of the Biblical text and how to plan a sermon series
in advance. They will have the opportunity to practice preaching
in our preaching lab and get feedback from both professors
and fellow students. The program will also give students the
opportunity to study with the finest biblical expositors in
the Pentecostal movement and to benefit from their network
of relationships. I believe that the graduates of the program
will be in high demand in the future because of the confidence
and skill they will develop.
There will be scholarship money available. How will those
scholarships be distributed?
Castleberry: For the 2005-2006 academic year, there will be
eight $4000 scholarships available to resident students on
a competitive basis. We are looking for additional partners
who would be willing to provide additional scholarships. Any
church that would like to offer a scholarship of $2500 or more
in its own name or to honor its pastor or retired pastor would
be welcome to participate.