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Synod of Covenant Equipping Preachers webinar
Together with the Rev. Dr. Ellen Davis, her colleague at the Duke Divinity School, the Rev. Dr. Jerusha Matsen Neal, who teaches homiletics there, has been teaching a class that requires students to preach a sermon on the climate crisis to any congregation in North Carolina. “My congregation is too politicized, too distrustful, too poor or too rich, too white or too Black, too rural or scientifically illiterate. They’re theologically conservative or progressively smug. They’re lectionary bound or they’re despairing or they’re afraid,” the students tell their professors early on in class.
When the Rev. Dr. Cleo LaRue hears a sermon, he’s listening for four things:
• Was the biblical text central to the sermon?
• Was there a controlling thought or identifiable sermonic idea, or was it, as LaRue calls it, “pearls without a string?”
• Could you follow the sermon with your listening ear? “I am opposed to long quotes,” the former homiletics professor at Princeton Theological Seminary said. “It takes it out of your voice and makes it difficult to hear and follow with your listening ear. You have to write in conversational tone to engage your congregation.”
• Did the sermon make a claim on your life? “Are you preaching because you have something to say,” he asked, “or are you preaching because you have to say something?”