Working Preacher: 10 years of global impact
by By Emily McQuillan '19 M. Div.
Sermon Brainwavers (from left): Rolf Jacobson, Karoline Lewis, and Matt Skinner
Since Luther Seminary launched Working Preacher, a website of dynamic weekly content for preaching, it has been a resource that empowers pastors and other Christian leaders as they face the everyday challenges and work of ministry.
Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, Working Preacher continues to be a trusted source of inspiration, interpretation, and imagination for faith leaders across the globe. In alignment with Working Preacher’s enduring spirit of innovation, a new platform was released that offers users additional ways to access and engage with high-quality content and that meets preachers’ needs as they proclaim God’s Word in authentic ways.
A Dynamic History and Exciting Future
In December 2007, Working Preacher published its first set of biblical commentaries. Site features expanded quickly, and—over time—Working Preacher launched enhancements like Sermon Brainwave podcasts, the Dear Working Preacher column, Spanish-language commentaries, Narrative Lectionary resources, and discussion questions. Thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment, an app was developed and released in April 2018. The Working Preacher app helps to serve the ever-changing needs of today’s pastors (see sidebar).
On an average week, 75,000 active users seek out Revised Common Lectionary and Narrative Lectionary resources to inform their ministerial work. The site has more than 400 contributors comprised of biblical scholars, theologians, homileticians, and pastors who have provided timely and trustworthy content. Through these diverse voices, Working Preacher is able to accompany preachers on their journey.
Weekly Support for Preachers
Merle Brockhoff ’85, has called on Working Preacher to help guide his path during the most recent decade of his 32 years as a pastor.
Brockhoff consistently uses Working Preacher in his ministry and says that podcasts, in particular, prompt him to enter into a conversation with the texts for the week by hearing analysis and anecdotes from acclaimed scholars on the Luther Seminary faculty. “Listening to Karoline [Lewis], Rolf [Jacobson], and Matt [Skinner] pondering, lifting up their scholarship, and bouncing their ideas off one another helps get my creative process jump started,” he says.
Working Preacher is just as useful in meeting the needs of new pastors like Emily Martin ’17. Martin is newly ordained and has been serving for six months at her first call. “I use Working Preacher throughout the week as a quick reference for the lectionary. Whenever I’m preaching the lectionary, the podcast is my first stop,” she says.
As a homiletician, Lucy Lind Hogan counts on Working Preacher to challenge her by sharing insights from individuals who have a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Hogan, who serves as president of the Academy of Homiletics, says she never begins crafting a sermon without joining in the Working Preacher conversation because the site allows her to draw upon the insights of current writers and to revisit previous contributions by other scholars and preachers as well.
“The call to preach is an honor and blessing. But, as the founders of Working Preacher wisely understood, preaching is also just that: work,” she says. “Preparing a sermon takes time, effort, energy, study, and reflection. It can be a solitary enterprise. I appreciate how the commentators make that work less solitary.”
Brockhoff agrees with Hogan, noting that working alone on sermon preparation often is not as fruitful as lively, in-person text study. “Working Preacher is the next best thing to it,” he says.
Brockhoff, Hogan, and Martin are among the host of preachers in 208 countries and territories who use Working Preacher during a 12-month period. Wherever a person is serving, Working Preacher fosters ministry and leadership out in the world. For pastors who may not have colleagues to study alongside, the site’s contributors become a community.
“We spend most of our lives as pastors trying to give a good word to someone else,” Brockhoff says. “The weekly ‘Dear Working Preacher’ [columns] done first by David Lose, now senior pastor at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, and now by Karoline Lewis are like streams in the desert to the preacher. It is so good to have someone affirm, commiserate with, and encourage you in the privilege of preaching.”
Working Preacher is more than a website and app; it’s a source of support for leaders from all walks of life. By providing weekly guidance to all types of Christian leaders, Working Preacher has an incredible impact on the lives of congregations and people of God. The resources it offers help leaders speak into the lives of people who come to hear the Word of God.
As world-renowned Old Testament scholar and theologian Walter Brueggemann says, Working Preacher “combines pastoral sensibility and critical acumen with courage and freedom. The outcome has been that a plenitude of pastors have been led to new ways of proclamation which in turn has served to enliven and empower congregations. Working Preacher has responded with serious effectiveness to the question of the apostle: How are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?”
Working Preacher App
Working Preacher launched an app in April that puts all of your favorite content at your fingertips.
Where can I get it?
Download at www.WorkingPreacher.org/app or find it in the Amazon, Apple, Google Play, or Microsoft app store.
How much does it cost?
There is a one-time download cost of $1.99 if you purchase before June 1, 2018. After June 1, the price is $4.99. All of the content on the app and on Working Preacher’s site remains free.
What does it include?
The Working Preacher app gives you on-the-go inspiration, interpretation, and imagination with features like:
- Weekly commentaries on the Revised Common Lectionary texts
- Discussion questions for each week’s RCL readings
- Narrative Lectionary commentaries
- Scripture readings from the NRSV • A Bible index where you can look up a commentary by chapter and verse
- A sleek new media player for Sermon Brainwave and Narrative Lectionary podcasts
- Spanish language commentaries and scripture
- Craft of Preaching articles
How does it help me stay connected?
The app keeps you up to date and connected through:
- An option to sign up for push notifications
- The ability to share your favorite messages via Twitter, Facebook, or email
- Downloadable podcasts for offline listening
- Note taking