Preaching as a Subversive Act

Leader:  Adam Hearlson

The history of Christian practice is filled with examples of faithful people engaging in imaginative acts of gospel shaped resistance. This workshop will draw inspiration from the Christian history of subversion and discuss how the examples of holy subversion in the past might inform our preaching in the present. We will commune with our subversive ancestors, hear their stories, and seek guidance on what to say in a world that has always been in danger of spinning off its axis. Students will create and deliver a subversive parable that addresses their local congregational context.

Preaching about racism

Leader:  Carolyn B. Helsel 

In churches across the United States, racial segregation testifies to the ongoing impact of our nation’s racist history. But how do pastors address racism from the pulpit? Particularly in predominantly white congregations? This four-day workshop will highlight the common obstacles to preaching about racism, especially the emotional resistance to talking about racism found in conservative and liberal churches alike. Preachers will prepare sermons that address current examples of racism, based on scriptural exegetical methods developed by communities of faith who have experienced racism from white Christians. Preachers will also learn ways to incorporate anti-racism practice in areas of ministry outside the pulpit.

Preaching and the Theopoetics of Public Discourse 

Leader:  Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm 

From “A City upon a Hill” to “The Drum Major Instinct,” American preachers have given voice to poetry and prose that have stirred our imaginations and empowered the church’s ministries of compassion and justice. This workshop will immerse participants in the theopoetics of preaching: the creative process of engaging metaphors, sounds, and the rhythms of Scripture and poetry to inspire our souls and empower sermon listeners.

 Speaking as God's Echo: Voice and the Preacher

Leader:  Samantha Gilmore

Stephen Webb argues that human beings are given the ability to speak because we are created to hear the Word of God and to speak for God as God’s “echo.” This is what it means, Webb suggests, to be created in the “image” of God. This “image” is more sound than sight. Many preachers, however, are more comfortable with seeing God’s Word in Scripture than hearing it. Seeing can make for a more difficult leap into preaching. This workshop invites participants to hear God’s Word as a voice – the voice of the second member of the Trinity – and to faithfully “echo” that voice in a fully embodied manner. Participants can expect to engage their whole bodies and voices and to play and perform with and for one another in this highly experiential workshop.

In Times Like These: Embodied Hope and the Power of Proclamation

Leader:   Veronice Miles  

How do we preach hope when confronted with social, political, and ecclesial challenges that negate the possibility of God’s redemptive presence? How do we resist distraction and embrace the hope-filled work to which the gospel invites us? This workshop explores the challenges and possibilities of preaching hope in the face of despairing realities that leave us feeling hopeless, anxious, and drained of imaginative potential. Against notions that limit hope to a feeling or attitude manipulatable by life’s circumstances, we will illumine an embodied theology of hope, highlighting hope’s anticipatory and praxiological potential. We will also ask, “What prevents us from living with hope?” In response, we will expose common misconceptions about hope, examine the dangers negating cultural realities pose for our ability to engage in hope-filled practice, and highlight preaching as a conduit for eliminating distortion, revealing possibilities, and emboldening individuals and communities to live with hope.

Learning from Diverse Preaching Traditions

Leader:  Jared Alcántara 

This workshop invites participants to broaden their preaching horizons through learning lessons from three non-majority-culture homiletical traditions. Participants will discuss the ways that context shapes their preaching, explore the role of context in reading and preaching biblical texts, watch video and audio clips of sermons, and conduct homiletical experiments through various learning activities over the course of the week.

Emerging Trends in Preaching: How Social Media Can Help Preach the Gospel

Leader:  Karyn Wiseman

Today’s culture is often shaped and informed by the power of social media. It is part of the mission field for churches in the 21st century. In this workshop we will explore both the positive and negative impacts of social media in the world. We will also discover how to utilize social media in the preparation of sermons and even in the preaching moment to engage listeners with the greatest story ever told.

Off the Page!

Leader:  Michael Brothers

With an emphasis on speech performance, this workshop strives for preaching that is oral/aural, visual, contextual, and faithful to the gospel.  Particular attention will be given to writing for the ear, preaching with and without a manuscript, voice, visual engagement, gesture/body movement, and improvisational speech. Participants are to come prepared to preach a beginning, a story or experience, and an ending from one or different sermons.

Two day pm workshops

(Monday/Tuesday 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. & Wednesday/Thursday 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.)

Teaching Your Congregation to Preach

Leader: Adam Hearlson

Proclamation of the gospel is the responsibility that comes with discipleship. Many lay congregants have been blessed with gifts that could serve their community and diversify the voices heard from the pulpit. You must not have gone to seminary to have a sermon to share with the congregation. In this workshop, we will discuss the need for a more robust lay preaching tradition and how churches might empower and train lay preachers for the edification of the body. Topics of discussion will include theologies of lay preaching, helpful pedagogies for lay preachers, and the benefits of teaching on your own sermon preparation.

Stories of Recognition

Leader: Carolyn B. Helsel

Preachers include stories in nearly every sermon, knowing the power of stories to expand listeners’ understanding of faith and ability to empathize with others. In today’s society, when many people remain in their own echo chambers of news media that affirm their own views of the world, how can preachers employ stories to help us see the humanity in our brothers and sisters across the aisle? This two-day afternoon workshop will engage practices of storytelling that help listeners recognize the commonalities between themselves and persons they view as very different from themselves, as well as to see how our experiences may be more different from one another than we might imagine due to identity markers such as race, gender, age, and physical ability. Resources for such stories will be available, and preachers will practice storytelling.

Preaching as Spiritual Formation

Leader: Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm 

In what ways might preaching be a source of spiritual formation and renewal – not only for the congregation but also for the preacher? Participants in this workshop will explore ways of sermon preparation that awaken our sense of God’s presence and movement among us, helping us to cultivate a connection with divine mystery in our lives, sermons, and communities of faith.

Identifying and Proclaiming Tones of Hope

Leader: Veronice Miles

Day one of the afternoon workshop will afford participants an opportunity to workshop their sermons in collaboration with others in the group. Participants will identify resonances of hope in one of their existing sermons and image possibilities for enhancing its hope-filled sermonic tones. On Day two, participants will preach the sermon they workshopped on Day one and receive feedback and affirmation from the group. These sessions will also afford participants an opportunity to reflect upon the collaborative process and the preaching experience as well as share insights and lingering questions.

Intercultural Communication: Preaching with Cultural Intelligence

Leader:  Y. Joy Harris-Smith

  This workshop is for persons interested in intercultural communication in the church. Participants will learn about intercultural communication and why it is vital in contemporary Christendom. Particular attention will be paid to the cultural intelligence framework and how that can be used in developing sermons and teaching. Activities will assist participants in assessing their cultural competence and developing strategies to improve communicating the Word of God.      

Critical Race Theory for Better Preaching

Leader: Gerald Liu

What is Critical Race Theory (CRT) and what does it have to do with better preaching? Richard Delgado and Jean Stefanic define CRT as a movement and “collection of activists and scholars interested in transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power.” Our workshop will closely read the third edition of Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (NYU Press, 2017) by Delgado and Stefanic, and work through homiletic exercises based upon the text to think about how to improve preaching that dares to address dynamics of race, racism, and power in America. If Jesus calls disciples to all nations, and the future of God displays all nations in praise of the lamb, then CRT offers clairvoyant lenses for seeing how to speak into those horizons.

How to Turn the Ear into an Eye: Preaching as an Oral-Aural Event

Leader:  Jared Alcántara

This workshop empowers participants to “preach for the ear” instead of “preach for the eye” through helping them to conceive of the sermon as an oral-aural event rather than a written artifact. It teaches the rules of orality in preaching, discusses practices to avoid when preparing sermons, and invites participants to learn from one another through the practice of preaching for the ear. 

The Power of Narrative: Telling the Old, Old Story in New Ways

Leader:  Karyn Wiseman

The narrative arc of the Gospel has been part of preaching since its very beginning. Jesus often spoke in story form and most people connect powerfully to stories. In this interactive workshop we will match texts to relevant and authentic storytelling for engaging preaching. We will look to popular culture, movies, music, and other sources for inspiration. 

Diverse Preaching to Diverse Listeners

Leader:  Kamalesh Stephen

The workshop will deal with diversity in preaching in terms of listeners, hermeneutics/interpretation, context, and social location. Participants will engage in hands on exercises, group discussions and a short reflection paper.