By Julie Cole
layne Banting practices what he preaches.
The pastor of Caronport Community Church (and adjunct professor at Briercrest College and Seminary) has a love for preaching and recently authored a book on the subject entitled: Take Up and Preach (Xulon Press).
This interest in preaching extends all the way back into Banting’s childhood. He grew up on a farm outside of the tiny town of Macrorie, Saskatchewan.
“(It was) 85 souls plus cats and dogs” Banting quipped.
His family attended a local church where his earliest childhood memory was of a tall pastor who had a commanding presence and a booming voice.
“I had this awareness that when the pastor spoke, I was hearing God talk to me,” Banting recalled.
This desire to present God’s word in an accurate yet relevant way is partially what drew Banting to write his book. He is bold about declaring the importance of his topic.
“(Preaching) is the matriarch of all disciplines. (Through study) I realized it didn’t really matter how much I knew. If I couldn’t communicate that (knowledge), then I wasn’t all that helpful.”
Take Up and Preach outlines the process of maintaining the tension between the biblical text and the contemporary sermon—bridging the gap between then and now while staying true to the original message.
Banting’s life has a dynamic tension between study and practice as he juggles his responsibilities as pastor and professor. For a short time, Banting considered giving himself entirely to teaching and studying of the art of preaching, but he continued to have a sense of calling to the church that would not leave him. This eventually led him to accept his current position as pastor of Caronport Community Church.
“It was hard for me to leave (full-time teaching) and do something else even though it was something I knew I was supposed to do,” Banting confessed. “It was time for me to practice what I preached.”
Banting, who has several graduate degrees, one being a doctorate of ministry in homiletics, tested early editions of his book in his preaching classes at Briercrest. Although he hopes the book will be a resource for classes, he also put his preaching method into book form to give inspiration and perspective to those in ministry who have grown dry in their own reading and preaching of the Bible.
“I wish someone had told me that preaching is more listening than it is talking,” Banting admitted. “Listening is more than one dimension. It’s listening to the text, listening to those around you—keeping your eyes open and your mouth shut until you realize you have something that’s even worth saying.”
It’s that kind of listening that keeps Banting on his toes as he teaches preaching to seminary students at Briercrest. He says he enjoys instructing seminary students because they come with more life experience which causes them to ask important questions.
“The class interaction is rich,” Banting said. “It keeps the teacher scared enough and preparing like mad because you have no idea what’s going to happen in the course of the day. But it’s invigorating.”
David Guretzki, Dean of Briercrest Seminary, appreciates Banting on two fronts. He works with him in the seminary and Banting is also his pastor.
“(Blayne is) simultaneously committed to the text of Scripture but is also so creative,” he said.
Guretzki recalls a favorite recurring rap ‘character’ nicknamed B-Layne who Banting becomes to help present different sermon topics.
Congregation members report how B-Layne recently showed up during a Sunday service and encapsulated the entire Bible from creation to revelation in a rap.
This combination of pastoring and teaching seems to be working together well for Banting.
“The way (my life’s work) is spelling itself out is a good mix,” he said with a smile.