Doing improv may be most commonly associated with comedy or other types of performing, but only the truth will be allowed when about a dozen speakers — including pastors, professors and missionaries — apply improvisational techniques at the upcoming eighth annual Preach-Off.
The event takes place a week from today at First Assembly of God in East Moline.
The Preach-Off is based on a passage of Scripture found in 2 Timothy 4:2, and is designed to challenge the participants to “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season ... ”
Each of the speakers (with 11 scheduled so far) will pull a random Scripture out of a hat and then have seven minutes to give an off-the-cuff sermon based on that passage.
“The Scriptures come from all over the Bible,” says the Rev. RoyAnn Mathews, an event organizer and pastor of Fulton Assembly of God. “With no time to prepare a speech, the quick sermons are heart-felt explanations.” Mathews will be one of the featured speakers.
The Rev. Larry Powell of First Assembly of God in East Moline says a theme begins to develop as the passages are chosen and each speaker takes their turn.
“None of us know what the scriptures are going to be, but once the first speaker starts, each person after that will build on the theme started.” This will be Powell’s third year of participating in the Preach-Off.
Other speakers will include The Rev. Dr. Melvin Grimes, the Rev. Keith Martin, evangelist Rich Mathews, professor Ken Lundeen, Bishop David Walker, evangelist Walter Shawgo, and missionaries Steve and Donna Krstulovich.
Although the name of the event may imply a lighthearted competition, Powell wouldn't describe it that way.
“It’s more like a fun challenge. It’s a good mix of different churches represented by their pastors.”
Since most of the pastors involved are leading their own churches on weekends, Powell says it’s a nice opportunity for them to listen to their counterparts speak.
Rev. Mathews believes the challenge the pastors face at the Preach-Off isn't limited to Bible scholars.
“As Christians, we need to read and know the word of God. The Bible tells us all to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within you,” she said.
Powell agrees. “We don’t have to go and research in order to share the word with others.”
Musical entertainment will be provided by soloists Brenda Walker and Sally Earnest, the Tabernacle Baptist Choir and the Jerusalem Temple Choir. The featured performers will be the Sondogs, a contemporary praise and worship band from southern Iowa.