Story Magazine - First Quarter, 2008
WorkingPreacher.org a Whole New Kind of Resource
by Kelsey Holm, Communication Specialist
Dr. David Lose, Luther Seminary academic dean and the Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching, woke up one night and knew that the Web site he had been dreaming about had to be called WorkingPreacher. The name sums up what the site is--and isn't--about.
"It's distinctive," says Lose. "It's not a clearinghouse of links, nor is it full of canned illustrations and sermons. This is for preachers working at their craft."
Nearly all of the site's contributors are biblical or preaching scholars, and come from diverse faith backgrounds.
"It's both profoundly Lutheran and broadly ecumenical," says Lose, adding that the balancing act is a tough one.
"We really are playing from our strengths, but seeking to be in conversation with and renew the preaching of the whole church."
Says Pastor Mary Brown, associate director for the Center for Biblical Preaching, "Biblical preaching and growing congregations go hand in hand. It is our hope that this site will enhance preaching and contribute to spiritual growth across the entire church."
WorkingPreacher, an initiative of Luther Seminary's Center for Biblical Preaching, launched Nov. 23 after 16 months of work. The site was and continues to be a large investment for the seminary. It is important to Lose that the site remains free, and everyone involved feels it's an investment that will pay off for the entire church. Both Lose and Brown are grateful to Luther for listening to congregations' and laity's needs for good biblical preaching in the church.
"Pastors live every day on the front line of life's anticipated and unexpected events--a medical emergency, the death of a congregation member, a crisis in a family," says Brown. "Oftentimes, a pastor's first priority of preparing a sermon can end up being something he or she doing at the last minute because there have been so many other needs in the congregation during the week."
Designed for today's Web-savvy audience, the site's design and content is clean and easy to navigate. Writings are organized into four categories: preaching this week, the craft of preaching, culture & context and lifelong learning.
"There are high-caliber reflections on the task of biblical preaching and what's going on in the world," says Lose. "The biblical study work is great. The writers take it as a foundation and tie in how God is speaking through them."
Their words aren't falling on deaf ears. Response to WorkingPreacher has been overwhelmingly positive. Writes the Rev. Jeffrey Bullock, All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church, "Thanks from a fellow Minnesotan (now sojourning in Santa Barbara) and an Episcopalian for your excellent site. I've recommended it to all my friends. Even after 30 years, the craft [of preaching] section reminds me of some basic skills not to be overlooked."
"From the very beginning, I said that there's nothing small about this project," says Lose. "From day one, we decided to shoot for the moon.We wanted to make a huge impact."
WorkingPreacher is also practicing what it preaches. The coming months will see a more interactive focus at the site, with video segments, podcasts and more resources added.
"This is just the beginning," says Lose. "We don't want to be just another Web site. We want to be a great Web site."