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

The University of Southern California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture (CRCC) will recruit 15 to 20 preachers from diverse backgrounds and different areas of greater Los Angeles to form a learning cohort focused on self-assessment, congregational needs, technology and media production for preaching, and preaching for impact. The pastors also will receive training and funding to develop and lead cohorts in their own geographic areas of southern California. CRCC will also host a series of public conversations on the “Craft of Preaching.” Grant awarded in 2022.

The Upper New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church will offer peer learning cohorts for preachers, in which participants will take part in a series of renewal experiences to foster greater imagination among preachers, engage in workshops for peer-to-peer learning and feedback on preaching, and attend a culminating storytelling training retreat that will help equip them to enliven sermons through stories and reach new audiences. Grant awarded in 2023.

Virginia Theological Seminary will organize congregational preaching seminars in which lay leaders will provide sermon feedback to clergy and also work collaboratively with them to develop sermons, help congregational lay leaders discern their own gifts for preaching, and assist preachers and congregations in using the arts to energize preaching. Programming will also include peer groups for preachers as well as local preaching festivals to showcase innovative and spiritually enriching approaches to preaching. Grant awarded in 2023.

Wesleyan Impact Partners will work with a cohort of innovative preachers who will engage in conversations with experts in new communication technologies, participate in learning journeys to deepen their understanding and expand their imaginations about how listeners hear sermons, and experiment with preparing and delivering sermons through new technologies. The program will then organize gatherings of preachers and religious leaders from across the country to share insights about the most effective new methods for delivering sermons through emerging communication technologies. Grant awarded in 2023.

Western Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church in America, working collaboratively with Hope College and Pillar Church, will launch a preaching society at Hope College to provide undergraduates opportunities to explore potential vocations in ministry, create The Collegiate Chaplains Society to develop a network of chaplains committed to mentoring young adult preachers, develop new courses and preaching peer cohorts for seminarians, organize preaching festivals, and expand internship opportunities for future preachers at Pillar Church. Grant awarded in 2023.

Westmont College will invite preachers and hearers to explore together what is contextual, human, and community-creating about Christian proclamation. Annual cohorts of preachers will engage with lay members and Westmont faculty to better understand the increasing diversity of their churches and communities, examine model sermons from multiple preaching traditions, investigate topics and trends that are relevant to preaching today, reflect on their own identities as preachers, and receive regular feedback from peers and teams in their own congregations. Grant awarded in 2023.

Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center will host annual conferences through a new Preaching Institute, create curriculum and resources on preaching, organize up to 150 preachers and potential preachers into peer cohorts that work together to strengthen the participants’ preaching skills, and form an advisory team comprised of exemplary preachers to serve as coaches and assist with curriculum development and conferences. Grant awarded in 2022.

Whitworth University will gather pastors into small preaching cohorts to explore innovative ways to create and deliver sermons that are experiential, participatory, image-rich, and connective, host virtual forums for preachers to connect with peers and share ideas and insights about their experiments with new methods of preaching, and organize annual in-person events for preachers focused on new communication skills and sermon planning for upcoming church seasons. Grant awarded in 2023.