Why I am at AMBS
“I love AMBS because it is a seminary for the church and for the world. While we engage in academic research and talk with academic peers, we all know that we are doing this for the sake of the larger church and the local church, and for our simple (and hard and complex) engagement with the world.” —Allan Rudy-Froese, PhD
Allan Rudy-Froese blends a heart for the church, preparation in communicating the Good News of the gospel, and infectious humor with the ministry of teaching students how to communicate with diverse audiences in the church and in current culture. His research brings homiletics, theology, biblical studies and performance theory to bear on preaching. Research interests for Allan include Jonah as a source for narrative, poetic and missional preaching; preaching practice and theology among North American Anabaptist-Mennonites; and the changing landscape of prophetic and pastoral preaching. His latest interest is in stage fright for preachers and leaders of worship. Allan leads preaching workshops for preachers, Scripture readers and worship leaders.
How does the Bible shape your vocation as a professor?
In keeping with the Anabaptist view that Bible is to be read closely with the Spirit and in community, in my classes we do a lot of slow, out-loud and performance-based readings of the text. When students can slow the text down, and stand up and feel the rhythms and voice of the text, the text becomes new for the student and for their peers.
What can students expect in your classroom?
I sometimes lecture in my classes, but we spend most of our time in discussion and practice. In discussion, we try to truly hear each other and be honest about what we bring. By practice, I mean that we spend time doing and then redoing the practice at hand, be it preaching, Scripture reading, storytelling or leading worship. In this little community where we do and redo, perform and reperform, we help each other practically and critically, using Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process.
What are some of the diverse voices you incorporate into your teaching?
While in Jamaica for a year in my late teens, I learned to appreciate various forms and styles of Afro-Caribbean preaching. Throughout my doctoral studies and in my present research, I enjoy reading and sometimes collaborating with preachers and scholars in the African American tradition, including Cleophus LaRue, Teresa Fry Brown, Henry and Ella Mitchell, and Luke Powery. It is important at AMBS for us to reflect on and learn from these rich traditions of African American preaching and worship. We discover that the story-based sermon is not a new thing developed by white literary critics in the 1960s but something that is old and communal and arises from Africa. We discover that body and emotion are crucial in worship and preaching: worship is not just a head game. In the last three years, at the invitation of ReconciliAsian, I have gone twice to Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California, to work with Korean students at on the topic of preaching.
My goal for students
My goal for students is that they grasp the gospel—feel it in their bones, live it joyfully, and preach it humbly and honestly.
I want students to become people who can nonanxiously join and invest themselves in the lament and joy, the protests and the celebrations of the church and of the world.
I want them to leave AMBS with the ability to embody the gospel in word and deed.
“The preached sermon as a happening of the gospel,” in Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology (Spring 2009)
“God’s reconciliation work: A spiritual exercise for preachers,” in Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology (Spring 2007)
“On Mennonite preaching: A review article,” in Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology (Fall 2005)
“Three days in the belly with Jonah: A preacher’s tale,” Mair Lectures, Trinity College, University of Glasgow, Scotland, March 2009
“John Howard Yoder’s theology of grace: A homiletical response,” at Inheriting John Howard Yoder: A new generation examines his thought, Toronto, Ont., May 2007
“This preacher has 22 minutes,” ongoing monthly column in Canadian Mennonite, beginning January 2010
Memberships and Associations