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

Samford University will launch new and enhance existing preaching-focused programs for seminarians at its theological school, undergraduate students in pre-ministry training programs, and high school students discerning ministerial vocations, gather pastors who serve in diverse contexts into peer learning preaching groups to engage in workshops and retreats focused on forms of preaching that more effectively reach new audiences, and develop a cadre of exemplary Preaching Fellows who will serve as mentors for aspiring preachers and contribute to newly proposed annual conferences and a preaching podcast. Grant awarded in 2023.

The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology will gather lay leaders and ordained clergy who preach into peer learning cohorts to help them develop their preaching skills. Participants will give and receive constructive feedback on their preaching, provide encouragement and support to one another in crafting sermons, and work with preaching coaches. The program will pay special attention to new approaches for preaching that are effective in reaching listeners in the largely secular Pacific Northwest region. In addition, the program will produce a podcast on preaching and host annual preaching events. Grant awarded in 2023.

Seton Hall University, along with its Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, seeks to help preachers discern and experience the significance and power of Christian hospitality as they prepare and deliver sermons that share the gospel message in ways that are inviting and welcoming. Program activities will include opportunities to reflect on the role of hospitality in delivering more effective sermons, annual retreats that offer training for future preachers, bimonthly preaching clinics to help aspiring preachers develop preaching skills, the production of new online preaching resources. Grant awarded in 2023.

The Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ aims to equip both lay leaders and clergy to proclaim the gospel message more effectively through cohort-based opportunities for preachers to learn basic preaching skills as well as new methodologies for preaching virtually in digital media, preaching camps for preachers to engage with renowned preaching professors, guest preachers and peers to receive support and feedback on their preaching, events to highlight exemplary preachers who participated in the program, and a digital “library” of sermons and other resources for preachers. Grant awarded in 2023.

The Synod of the Covenant Presbyterian Church (USA), will work with Alma College, the Presbytery of Cincinnati, and Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary to identify, train and support aspiring and newer preachers who have not received graduate theological training and equip them for effective and sustainable preaching ministries. Programming will include monthly cohorts guided by preacher-mentors, annual preaching conferences that bring together cohort participants and preaching exemplars, and written sermon feedback for preachers from laypeople. Grant awarded in 2023.

Theology of Work Project, Inc. will train Hispanic pastors to help their congregations understand their lives and work through the lens of the gospel. The program will offer bimonthly online trainings for preachers focused on making connections between faith and work, bimonthly sermon preparation sessions to help pastors connect their lived experiences with their preaching, annual in-person gatherings to share compelling preaching stories, and an online resource library for preaching in Spanish. Grant awarded in 2023.

Trevecca Nazarene University aims to help young and emerging preachers from diverse backgrounds who live in the southeastern region of the United States to develop their preaching voices and learn basic preaching skills. The program will offer youth preaching showcases and other activities to help students explore vocations in ministry, provide mentoring for young preachers, expand the diversity of perspectives in the university’s preaching courses, train preaching coaches to work with preachers in different Nazarene regions, and offer preaching workshops and conferences for current preachers. Grant awarded in 2023.

Union Presbyterian Seminary will gather a cohort group of 24 early career preachers from diverse backgrounds to address major preaching themes, develop supportive relationships with peers, and receive individual and peer coaching. In addition, the program will organize a consultation on digital technology, host annual conferences, create a preaching blog, and present public webinars with panelists who will speak to issues of concern for early career preachers. Grant awarded in 2022.

Union Theological Seminary seeks to help pastors understand and address complex issues about climate change in their sermons. Programming will include a high-quality online certificate program for preachers that explores issues related to preaching about climate change, engagement with climate experts and policymakers at the seminary’s Immersive Eco-Justice Conferences, support for preachers to develop and implement community engagement projects in their home communities, and digital resources on preaching about climate change for a wider audience of preachers. Grant awarded in 2023.

The United Methodist Foundation for Arkansas will form peer learning cohorts of 12 pastors each that will meet for two years to strengthen the pastors’ preaching practices. Participants will engage in multiple retreats focused on enhancing communication skills, learning innovative methods of preaching and using digital and other emerging communication technologies, participate in pilgrimage experiences to nourish their spiritual lives, exchange pulpits with other participants to learn how to preach in different settings, work with preaching exemplars, and meet regularly with each other through online gatherings. Grant awarded in 2023.

The University of Chicago will form peer learning cohorts comprising preachers from the greater Chicago region who will meet regularly for two years. In the first year, participants will identify major challenges facing their congregations and communities, develop sermons addressing them, and receive feedback about their sermons from their peers. In the second year, congregants will join their pastors to provide feedback and explore how preaching helps them engage and sustain their community outreach endeavors. The program also will host festivals of preaching for participants and the wider community. Grant awarded in 2023.

The University of Dallas' Institute of Homiletics will assess and strengthen its existing Preaching for Encounter program (currently in its first year with 48 preachers), develop curriculum for a second year of this program focused on preaching for younger generations, build awareness among bishops and clergy that liturgical preaching matters for the renewal and future of the Catholic Church, and provide online and in-person resources for priests to meet the need for more compelling preaching for younger Catholics. Grant awarded in 2022.

The University of Indianapolis, through its Lantz Center for Christian Vocation, will gather pastors into cohorts designed to help them strengthen each other’s preaching skills, convene an innovative proclamation research group to examine changing communication practices for preachers, and host citywide events for preachers to share the themes and findings from both the compelling preaching cohorts. Grant awarded in 2022.

The University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life will invite ten clergy-lay teams from a diverse range of parishes to develop and implement a project intended to renew Catholic preaching in its setting.  As the individual projects conclude, Notre Dame will work with the teams to develop resources that the McGrath Institute will make available to other parishes and dioceses so that they can implement similar projects in their own contexts. Grant awarded in 2022.

The University of Redlands and its San Francisco School of Theology will work collaboratively with the Center for Faith and Justice to help preachers address complex challenges facing their communities. Program offerings will include online educational opportunities on effective preaching practices, seminary courses focused on preaching on justice-oriented challenges, peer cohorts for pastors to learn from one another about best preaching practices, in-person preaching-focused educational events, workshops and conferences, and new resources to support preachers in their ongoing professional development. Grant awarded in 2023.