Luther Seminary has received a grant of $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help preachers cultivate transformational Christian faith through compelling preaching for today’s world.
Cultural, technological, and generational shifts continue to challenge the effectiveness of preaching models that don’t attend to the intersectional realities of 21st-century listeners. With a distinctive commitment to Biblical preaching, Luther Seminary is uniquely positioned to help preachers acknowledge this crisis and meet the challenges before them.
A new project called “And How Will They Hear?” will invite preachers from diverse congregations into peer learning communities to reimagine preaching for a changing world. Accompanied by a homiletician, peer cohorts will engage the craft of preaching as well as the art of listening for the spiritual needs of their congregations and communities. Through deep listening, self-evaluation, sermon preparation, and action-learning experiments, participants will develop new preaching skills to help foster transformation in their listeners and faith communities.
The project findings will shape future preaching pedagogy, both in the seminary’s degree programs and in its broader offerings for the church and Christian leaders. These include sermon preparation resources from Working Preacher, the Faith+Lead online learning hub, and the annual Festival of Homiletics preaching conference.
“Our core assumption is that the good news of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible is still good news for people today,” said Robin J. Steinke, president of Luther Seminary. “We believe that by the power of the Holy Spirit, transformational preaching is both possible and necessary in the 21st century. This opportunity to accompany Christian leaders on their journey to rediscover compelling preaching is an invitation to fully embody our mission as a teaching institution of the church.”
The “And How Will They Hear?” project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. Luther Seminary is one of 32 organizations receiving funding in an invitational round of grants for the initiative, which is designed to help Christian pastors strengthen their abilities to proclaim the gospel in more engaging and effective ways.
“We are excited about the work that these organizations will do to foster and support preaching that better inspires, encourages and guides people to come to know and love God and to live out their Christian faith more fully,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Their programs will serve a significant number of aspiring and current preachers who are working to reach and engage increasingly diverse audiences both within and beyond congregations.”
The Compelling Preaching Initiative is part of the Endowment’s longstanding interest in supporting projects that help to nurture the religious lives of individuals and families and foster the growth and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States.
About Luther Seminary
Luther Seminary educates leaders for Christian communities across the country and around the world. An innovator in theological education, the seminary is committed to exploring leading-edge approaches for Christian ministry, proclamation, and faith formation in a rapidly changing world. As one of the seven seminaries in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Luther Seminary has educated more than one-third of ELCA pastors, lay professionals, and leaders of many global Lutheran and ecumenical churches.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. In addition, the Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.