by Heidi E. Heater
Although most students’ dissertations collect dust on a shelf, Larry Teasley, M.Div. ’87 and D.Min. ’00, uses his research daily. As a D.Min. student, Teasley focused his studies on biblical preaching. In his dissertation, he sought to define excellent biblical preaching by studying ministers such as John Wesley and Charles Spurgeon, their sermons and their methods.
“I love preaching,” Teasley said. “The first line of my dissertation is ‘preaching is my passion.’ I love to preach and I love to help other pastors preach and help them in whatever way I can.”
In his dissertation, Teasley outlined three key elements of biblical preaching. These include an authoritative use of Scripture, a sound knowledge of the personhood of Christ as found in the Bible and a clear goal of spiritual transformation. Teasley noted that a sermon’s goal differs depending on the preacher. For example, Wesley preached for either conversion or sanctification, while Spurgeon preached for correct doctrine.
“My goal in preaching is that the Jesus of the New Testament shows up on Sunday morning or wherever I am speaking, and that by doing that, lives are changed and the kingdom of God is manifested,” he said.
In the United Methodist Church, a pastoral licensing school convenes annually in each annual conference. This school offers the introductory training required prior to the denominational Course of Study for those pastors holding local licensure. While under appointment, most licensed local pastors attend the Course of Study rather than taking the traditional seminary route. Since 2002, Teasley has taught the preaching section of the Alabama-West Florida Conference’s licensing school.
“My time at Asbury Theological Seminary gave me the resources necessary to equip local pastors for ministry,” he said. “I have a real love for local pastors who may never go to seminary.”
As an instructor at the licensing school, Teasley serves as a preaching teacher, coach and guide. In class, Teasley teaches students ways to best prepare sermons and communicate them in an understandable way to their congregations. As do seminaries, Teasley promotes a critical examination of the text in its original language and culture in order to gain a deeper understanding of the Scriptures.
Even after receiving licensure, some students maintain a mentor relationship with Teasley, sending him sermons for review and asking for guidance during the ordination process.
Recently, Teasley received the opportunity to be part of a collegial learning cohort. He enrolled in the inaugural Excellence in Preaching Cohort, becoming one of 12 members to participate in Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference’s Academy for Congregational Excellence. The Academy’s planning team highlighted several areas necessary for church vitality. The team found that the number one driver of church vitality is effective pastoral leadership, with excellent preaching being a chief component.
Through his time within the cohort, Teasley seeks to become a more effective preacher himself and to help others do the same.
“I’m excited that I’m going to be in a group that’s going to discuss how we can be better preachers and how we can help others,” Teasley said.
Teasley recently published To Shepherd a Movement on Seedbed, Asbury Seminary’s resourcing network.
Teasley currently serves as the senior pastor of the First United Methodist Church in DeFuniak Springs, Fla., in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. In 2004 the United Methodist annual conference bestowed upon him two honors: the Award for Ministry for Men and the Ross Freeman Award. He and his wife Shari have one son, Joshua.