Anyone. Anything. Someone. : Why I'm Doing "The Preachers" at Art Prize 10

When I was 16, my youth pastor encouraged me to enter in the youth preaching competition for our denomination. I had five minutes to preach a mini-sermon in front of room of judges, fellow preachers and observers.

After the contest, the pastor of the church we attended at that time invited me to give my short talk to the congregation at an evening service. I was honored. It was energizing, affirming and empowering.

 It wasn’t until years later that I realized: None of this is normal. Most people don’t get access to their church’s pulpit, ever.

I once heard a church leader talk about “guarding the stage.” He means churches should

“only allow vetted voices access to your people.” In many ways, the pulpit is rightly protected. It’s important for the preachers to be people of character who are doctrinally sound and stylistically matched to a particular church’s culture.

 That said, in some ways the pulpit is wrongly guarded. Often, we restrict access to the pulpit keep dissent, critique or diversity of thought at bay. The gatekeepers defend the microphone for a privileged few. The underlying thought is: Preachers are an elite class.

 Make no mistake: I believe preaching is a high-calling and a gift. Nevertheless, a good preacher can come from anywhere. The Bible is filled with stories of how God uses a myriad of voices to bring truth to God’s people.

 Preachers are angels and kings and prophets and priests and pagans.

They are hippies and scholars and alleged heretics.

They are power-brokers and outsiders, and on a rare occasion, donkeys.

 Sometimes the preacher is a child, like Samuel.

Or a shepherd, like Micah.

Or a young single woman, like one of Philip’s daughters.

 Sometimes the preacher is an adulterer, like David.

Or a murderer, like Moses.

Or singer-songwriter, like Miriam.

Or a career fisherman, like Peter.

 When it comes to preaching in church settings, not everyone can say something to everybody. But the idea behind “The Preachers,” my entry for Art Prize 10, is that anyone can say anything to somebody. And over eight days from 9/19 to 10/7, I will be that somebody.


Here’s where I need your help.

1)     Please come to Grand Rapids to see “The Preachers.”

After you vote inside the Grand Rapids Art Prize area, you can vote remotely.

2)     Vote for “The Preachers.” The vote code is: 67174

Learn more about the voting process here:

 3)     Sign up to speak. I’d love to hear what you would say if you had the pulpit at your church, or any church. You can reserve a slot here:

4)     Invite people who live in or around Grand Rapids to come to see “The Preachers” at ArtPrize 10.



Craig Custance