The Compelling Preaching Coordination Program celebrates the unique contributions that very different kinds of institutions— congregations, denominations, seminaries, universities, colleges, non-profit organizations, informal peer leader learning groups— can make to strengthening the ecology of North American Christianity, while discerning how we can collaborate for greater fruitfulness.

Compelling Preaching Initiative Grantees

Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary, its religion department, and its undergraduate Ministry Guidance Program will work collaboratively to foster compelling preaching among diverse preachers by launching and enhancing programs (e.g., peer cohorts, workshops, conferences) focusing on the preaching traditions of communities of color, cultivate intercultural competence among aspiring college-age and seminarian preachers through engagement with diverse communities and practices, and bring together scholars and preachers from communities of color through peer learning experiences. Grant awarded in 2023.

Belmont University will create a cohort of preachers from significant congregations across Nashville who serve in diverse racial and denominational contexts. Working together and engaging with executives and leaders in creative arts, participant preachers will engage with new creative techniques and processes, strengthen their abilities to preach about difficult and polarizing issues, and develop sustainable preaching ministries. Cohort participants will share insights about effective preaching strategies and practices with other pastors at an annual summit for ministers. Grant awarded in 2023.

The Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church will develop video resources for preachers as well as design and launch a two-year masterclass intended to help preachers grow deeply as pastors and preachers. The masterclass will prioritize mentor support, peer engagement, and community building. Those who complete the master class may also go on to become mentors and content creators for the program. Grant awarded in 2022.

Calvin Theological Seminary, through its Center for Excellence in Preaching, will gather pastors into peer learning groups to explore hybrid worship, preaching that navigates hyper-partisanship in congregations and society, prophetic preaching, and how to build congregational unity through preaching. Calvin will convene peer group leaders as well as other preachers in consultations and colloquia and will also develop week-long summer seminars for preachers. Grant awarded in 2022.

The Catholic Church Extension Society of the United States of America, commonly known as Catholic Extension, will expand its business intelligence team to work with priests, religious men and women, and lay professionals to help them understand and utilize data regarding the perspectives of their parishioners as well as other audiences. The program will help participants draw on findings to craft and deliver sermons that are more relevant to the lives of their listeners. Grant awarded in 2023.

The Catholic Theological Union at Chicago will work collaboratively with the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago to conduct innovative empirical studies that draw on methodologies and insights from neuroscience to understand how listeners both hear and respond to different kinds of preaching. Based on findings from the studies, the program will produce accessible, online open access video and print resources in both English and Spanish for Catholic preachers to help them strengthen their preaching in a variety of ministry contexts. Grant awarded in 2023.

The Catholic University of America will equip both clergy and lay leaders to preach more effectively in various Catholic settings through a new Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Preaching Workshop for priests and seminarians, a continuing education program for deacons who preach regularly, a new online certificate program for lay preachers, and a new digital preaching resource structured on the liturgical year that will be available in English and Spanish. Grant awarded in 2023.

The Center for Pastor Theologians will guide pastors through a study of the doctrines of Word, Spirit and Church and explore with them how these doctrines shape compelling preaching, expand its Local Theologian Fellowship groups for pastors from six to 40 each year (with a focus on preaching), develop web-based resources and other media content related to preaching, and host a national conference focused on the theological and formational aspects of compelling preaching. Grant awarded in 2022.

Central Christian College of the Bible will provide holistic training in preaching for non-seminary-trained preachers by engaging pastors in cohort-based peer learning programs focused on enhancing preaching, offering a more intensive version of this program for veteran preachers at risk of attrition, and developing a national network of trained, coordinated student volunteers to provide basic media support to churches that cannot afford it. Grant awarded in 2023.

The Charles Simeon Trust will help preachers proclaim the gospel more confidently and competently to their diverse audiences by enhancing its training content on persuasion and rhetoric in preaching, expanding access to training opportunities—especially for women and people who preach in Spanish or Chinese in the United States, and launching peer groups to support active and aspiring preachers. Grant awarded in 2023.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance seeks to train and deploy lay preachers from ethnically diverse backgrounds to serve in volunteer or bivocational roles in new and existing small-membership churches across the United States. The program’s educational opportunities will leverage emerging digital technologies and will be offered in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Hmong, Korean, French, and Arabic. Grant awarded in 2023.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will develop a robust preaching resource library, host biennial preaching conferences featuring exemplary preachers from the denomination and other churches; invite pastors to join clergy cohort groups for collegial support, learning and resource sharing; and provide financial assistance to enable bi-vocational pastors to participate in programs that will strengthen their preaching skills. Grant awarded in 2022.

The Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church will work collaboratively with Phillips School of Theology to provide training to early career preachers who have not had access to graduate theological education.  Programming will include preaching cohorts in each CME district led by experienced preachers, an online resource library that includes exemplary sermons, templates, research materials and other relevant resources, and regional conferences, preaching labs, and certificate programs to encourage life-long learning in effective preaching practices. Grant awarded in 2023.

Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) will—in connection with its PhD in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric—identify and invite 12 of the most outstanding and exemplary African American preachers in the United States to participate in an 18-month preaching program through which they will also each mentor two cohorts of eight pastors each. CTS will also host a major Mixed Methods Preaching Conference and develop new video resources for its Legacy Series in African American Preaching. Grant awarded in 2022.

Christianity Today will update its digital platforms and website to make its Preaching Today resources more accessible and develop new content and educational opportunities for preachers (e.g., forming online peer communities, producing videos, developing educational courses, hosting webinars, sharing insights about effective preaching through podcasts). Grant awarded in 2022.