Brent Bodenhamer ... Reaching South Dakota
By: Jason Cruise

Brent Bodenhamer, Pastor
Rose Hill Evangelical Free Church

Age: 35

Family: Wife: Rebecca Daughter: Madison (8 months old)

Contact Info:
Rose Hill Evangelical Free Church
12097 Rose Hill Rd.
Langford, SD 57454
(605) 493-6717

Educational Background:

BA, Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, IL)
MDiv., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL)

FYI ...
Pastor Brent Bodenhamer and his wife, Rebecca, began serving the Lord at Rose Hill EFC in March, 1997. This is their first pastorate. On December 3, 1999, they had their first baby, Madison.

Brent is a native of Kansas, while Rebecca is a native of Oregon. They both attended and graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL with their B.A.'s (Brent's in pastoral emphasis and Rebecca's in Christian education). Brent went on to earn his Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (EFCA) in Deerfield, Illinois.

Rebecca works a full-time job out of their house for a company in Chicago. She has been active in the ministry at Rose Hill, but has needed to refocus her energies recently on the new addition to the family.

In his spare time, Brent likes to fish, golf, read, and is an avid 3 Stooges fan.


TP: Where are you trying to take the church in the future in your preaching ministry at Rose Hill?

BB: What keeps me preaching, even when I don't see immediate results, is the fact that I know it is God's ordained way of growing people. God has told us in Romans 8:29 that His goal for each of His followers is to grow into conformity to Jesus. Throughout the Bible, preaching is the main way this is done. So, when I feel I am accomplishing nothing, I have to remind myself of this. People like topical, feel-good messages, but the real growing power is
in expositional preaching. So, the longer I preach God's Word, the more I want to see the people (and myself) growing into conformity of Jesus Christ. I used to get disappointed (still do a little even now) when I knew I had a life-changing sermon because I was preaching from a life-changing
passage (i.e., it impacted me) and then some of the people afterward acted as if they never heard the sermon. One thing that someone said (or I read somewhere) that has helped me with this disappointment was to look at preaching this way: you probably don't remember too many individual meals
your mother made for you when you were young, but she fed you healthy, nutritious meals and you grew up strong and healthy. People won't often remember individual sermons, but if you keep feeding them healthy, nutrious meals from the Word of God, they will grow up strong and healthy. That hashelped me realize the important thing is the process, not just the event.

TP: What needs are you currently trying to meet in your preaching ministry at Rose Hill? (special series, etc)

BB: The current need that I am using as a driving force behind my preaching is understanding God's design of church and what being His follower means. This is an old church and many of the people have grown up in churches. They think they know what church is all about. But they need to know that church is not programs or some place you come on Sundays and then live your life the way you want the other 6 days of the week. I'm trying to get us to notice that just because people are "good" doesn't mean they are going to heaven. And we need to get out there and share Jesus with them. That's hard in a rural community where everybody is related in one way or another and they've known each other all their lives.

TP: What have been your preaching goals since you got there 3 years ago?? Were there any big issues to overcome when you arrived, etc?? If so, how did you tackle them from the pulpit??

BB: My plan from the get-go has been to overcome ignorance of the Bible. Many people could tell you something was in the Bible, but they didn't know where and they often didn't know what it meant. So, I've been trying to teach them in Sunday School and in the Worship service that the Bible must shape our thinking, 24/7, and we should not base our theology on what some pastor or some church has taught, but on what the Bible says because it is God's Word. In my preaching, if I have a question raised by the text, or if I know of others who have a question the text addresses, I will ask the question for them in the sermon and show how the text answers it. I've also had to apologize in my sermons when there is a text that addresses an area where my behavior or attitudes haven't lined up. This gives the people a more concrete example of how to submit to God's Word. Even the pastor sins and is rebuked, corrected and trained by God's Word.

TP: How many total hours a week do you spend on sermon prep?

BB: That is so hard to put a number on because there are many times during the day that I find myself thinking about the passage and what it means and what kinds of illustrations are appropriate or enlightening. On Sunday afternoon, I find myself thinking about next week's sermon. When I read books I mark them with a tag or write down on a notepad illustrations or ideas that would be good for sermons. Do you count that time? It counts, but I don't know how to put it in numbers. From when I get an idea to the end product, it is at least a minimum of 10 hours, many times closer to 20.

TP: Every week, hopefully weeks ahead of time, preachers do the nuts and bolts of sermon prep. What do you struggle with most in getting a sermon "preaching ready" - and, what do you do to overcome that hurdle?

BB: Sometimes knowing what God wants to address for our congregation is a difficult process. There are weeks where I have no leading whatsoever. Other times it is clear as the day. But the thing I find the hardest for me is coming up with memorable outlines. I can do the exegesis and come up with
the "big idea" of the passage. But I have a hard time creating outlines that are true to the text and memorable. That's where I do "research" with other people's sermons and see how they outlined the passage. Then I take what I like and change what I don't. If I don't change much, I make sure I let the
people know I "borrowed" the outline from the person. I never want the outline to drive the text. It must always be the other way around. But there are some people who just seem to have a knack for creating memorable outlines or alliterations.

TP: What kind of sermonic style works best in your church??? Narrative, topcial, expository??? Why? Do you experiment with different styles??

BB: 90% of my preaching is expository (text driven). Other times I do topical and a little narrative. I get the most responses from people with the topical sermons. That tempts me to do more of them, but I agree with my preaching teachers at Moody Bible Institute and Trinity Evangelical Divinity
School--people need to hear from God's Word the way God gave it (i.e., expository). Topical (I use this term meaning topical/textual, not coming up with a topic and then finding a verse or two to tie into the Bible) sermons have a desert kind of taste to people. They are easy to swallow and answer life's problems with a few principles. I am not convinced people grow in
conformity to Jesus with topical sermons. They must hear and observe the meat of expository sermons. Expository sermons not only tell the people the message of God the way the author meant, inspired by God, but it also shows them how to study the Bible on their own. They can see for themselves where the ideas and applications are coming from. They can see I'm not pulling these ideas from out of a hat or some church teaching. It is coming directly from God's Word. So, I give them the healthy meal of expository preaching and I throw in a little desert of topical preaching every once in a while.