May the Lord GOD give me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to answer the weary a word that will waken them. (from Isaiah 50:4)
Coaching Preachers to Listen and to Connect
Researchers tell us that people tend to see what they have always seen and do as they always have done. This could be true of your preaching. An unexamined preaching life can become a stale preaching life. Sometimes it helps to bring in an outside consultant to be a fresh pair of eyes. Together we can figure out:
1) How are you doing? Using short and long-term assessment tools, we can evaluate the current state of your preaching.
2) Where do you want to be? Envisioning excellence gives us a target to shoot for. Responses from the people in the pew will combine with the voice of the homiletics consultant to outline what makes for effective preaching in your locale. The preacher who first listens can then create messages which will connect.
3) How do you get there? We will find an approach that works for you and then set reachable goals which provide small and manageable steps. The plan to improve preaching will be individualized, based on your assessed needs and the needs of your people.
4) How will you get your people on board to help you? Fostering the give-and-take of the preacher and his/her listeners creates a culture through which preaching improvement becomes a local, personalized and continual process.
Preaching Improvement Workshops
- Are You Talking to Me? Connecting with Youth in Sunday Preaching – this preaching workshop begins with the results of Bellinger’s doctoral thesis of what young people have to say about how to connect with them in Sunday preaching. It also looks at cultural factors that both hinder and support listening and a commitment to faith. The participants will take home an outline of a Sunday homily which “sticks.”
- From the Coffee Table to the Training Table: Connecting with the Confirmation Homily - this preaching workshop focuses on helping bishops to strengthen their message so that young confirmandi encounter the living God. Rather than craft a homily from presuppositions about “how to relate,” this workshop builds upon the words of young listeners and their hopes for effective preaching. If you’ve always wanted to try something new in speaking to youth, this will give you insights into their needs and practical ways to address them. (This interaction can be done as a group workshop or could also be incorporated into a personal consultation.)
- Sharing the Word - this is Wilhelm’s week-long interactive preaching improvement workshop for priests and deacons; preachers will self-evaluate and work together with a preaching consultant to grow their homiletical skills. Moments of prayer intersperse with hands-on preaching work.
- Preaching the Paschal Mystery: The Role of Catechesis and Doctrine in Sunday Preaching – this workshop arises from our organization’s collaboration with the NCCL in the Catechesis and Preaching Initiative. The new USCCB document, Preaching the Mystery of Faith, encourages a turn toward preaching that integrates catechesis and doctrine with the lectionary text. This workshop explores, “What should effective catechetical preaching look like?” Participants bring a homily-in-progress and work together to see how to strengthen its catechetical and doctrinal elements in a way that connects with the needs of their people.