Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Developing Preaching Skills and the Festival of Homiletics

What a gift it was to be present for the Festival of Homiletics in Atlanta this year. The theme was “Prophetic Preaching in Times of Change” and featured such preachers as Walter Brueggemann, Anna Carter Florence, Grace Imathiu, Alyce McKenzie and many others. If you are new to the Festival, it is a blend of dynamic worship, preaching and lectures on preaching.  As clergy, we rarely have the opportunity to hear others preaching and to consider deeply why and how we share God’s message. To hear a perfectly crafted, entertaining and empowering sermon and then a lecture on the methodology behind it is the type of continuing education most clergy can benefit from. 
Of particular interest to female clergy is Karoline Lewis whose website can be found here:  Karoline is the Associate Professor of Preaching and Marbury Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota and her most recent book is “She: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Women in Ministry”.  Teaching on embracing your identity and claiming your unique voice, her work has a great deal to offer for struggling female clergy. 

As beneficial as it is to be present for the Festival, I love the recordings.  One year, we missed the Festival but bought the recordings to listen to on our way to another conference in Tahoe. We could pause and talk about a point or technique, and listen to them at our pace rather than a designated schedule. We’ve been doing it ever since.

Preaching is a difficult skill to develop. Preaching classes in seminary are theoretical for most, as in seminary most students are not actively preaching every week therefor it does not have proper context. Reading books about preaching doesn't have the same impact as listening to other sermons and dissecting them. Find ways to develop your craft and not only will it enhance your worship leadership, but your personal spiritual growth will benefit as well. 

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