Sep. 6, 2011
Candler School of Theology’s nationally acclaimed preaching teacher Thomas G. Long admits that for most people, the words boredom and sermon are a proper pair, like horse and carriage.
“People are waiting for preachers who feel the strong wind, who sense the heights above them and the abyss below and take a deep breath and preach a life-changing gospel,” says Long, Bandy Chair of Preaching and author of 19 books on the subject. “Preaching is like playing the piano. There is a certain giftedness to it, but it’s best done by people who practice their scales.”
Long and seven other preaching stars will share their creative processes and techniques for delivering a great sermon at “The Art of Preaching in the 21st Century,” Candler’s Fall Conference designed for clergy and laity, October 10-12. The event takes place at Candler and Cannon Chapel on the Emory campus. Registration is $250. For more information, go to http://www.candler.emory.edu/news/calendar/ and navigate to October 10.
Speakers also will address how modern preaching has changed. “American preaching over the last 50 years has been enamored with storytelling—I’m a storytelling preacher myself,” Long says. “Recently, however, preaching has been moving away from stories and toward something more like practical wisdom—guidance for how to understand and live an everyday Christian life. Stories work well if you have a congregation that already knows the faith, but many in our culture don’t. So, preachers are sensing the need to do more teaching in sermons.”
Long adds that audiences are just as important as pastors in ensuring that worthwhile faith experience is shared by all. “The pastor cannot simply do a rotary club speech with Bible verses,” he says. “Pastors need to be open to the word of God and be seized by it. The audience must be involved as well and not just sit passively.”
In addition to Long, speakers include:
Teresa Fry Brown, professor of homiletics and director of Black Church Studies at Candler, who serves as associate pastor of New Bethel AME Church in Lithonia, Ga, and has research interests in womanism, socio-cultural transformation, and African diaspora history.
Cláudio Carvalhaes, Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, who preaches, writes and performs in three languages.
Anna Carter Florence, Columbia Theological Seminary, an expert in feminist theology and the history of preaching women.
James C. Howell, Myers Park UMC, author of 12 books who serves as an adjunct professor of preaching at Duke Divinity School.
Otis Moss III, Trinity United Church of Christ, who graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta and lists jazz and hip hop music, Zora Neale Hurston and Martin Luther King Jr. among his influences.
P. Alice Rogers, assistant professor in the practice of congregational leadership at Candler, who served as a pastor in the Atlanta area for 17 years and currently focuses her work on ministry in small membership churches.
Gary V. Simpson, who has served as senior pastor at Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York, for more than 20 years.