Story Magazine - Fourth Quarter, 2008

"In the Company of Preachers" Gives Pastors a Chance to Listen

by Shelley Cunningham, '98, M.Div.

There's nothing like listening to a really good sermon - letting the words inspire you, challenge you, comfort you. But what if you're the preacher, standing up in the pulpit every Sunday - when do you get to listen?

"In the Company of Preachers" offers an answer. It combines the best of Luther Seminary's chapel sermons with insightful teaching and commentary, all centered around a theme that is both relevant and practical for preachers today.

"Preaching can be one of the lonelier aspects of parish ministry because you are regularly preaching to others and rarely hear the Word preached to you," said David Lose, Marbury E. Anderson Professor of Biblical Preaching. "Most of the preparation for our sermons is done is isolation. Listening to these presentations reminds preachers that they are in great company, bound to countless other preachers by a devotion to proclaiming the Word."

"In the Company of Preachers" was launched last year by the Center for Biblical Preaching. An annual subscription includes four audio CDs, delivered quarterly. It complements the CBP's other primary production, WorkingPreacher.org.

"WorkingPreacher is designed to help preachers with the week-to-week process of sermon writing," said Mary Brown, associate director of the Center for Biblical Preaching. "But we believe good preachers are always students. The best preachers I know are using every opportunity to learn more about their craft."

They'll find opportunity with "In the Company of Preachers." Each session focuses on a particular aspect of preaching - such as 'Preaching the Law' or 'Telling the Story,' two recent offerings - with a 15-20-minute teaching session and four sermons related to the topic. Each sermon includes an introduction about what makes that sermon stand apart.

The presenters and preachers are most often seminary faculty but also include guests and friends of the seminary who are teaching and preaching there. Luther Seminary President Richard Bliese offers introductory remarks and narration on each disc.

"Our goal is to help people grow in their preaching, but we are also mindful that pastors are very busy on the front lines of life and ministry. Continuing education doesn't always happen in neat, weekly chunks," Brown said. "With ['In the Company of Preachers'], you can listen in the car on the way to the hospital or while out for a jog. It's a way to use that time to feed yourself...and maybe remember those great days at seminary when you were able to go to chapel every day."

"'In the Company of Preachers' is part instruction and part encouragement, meant to lift up the spirits, as well as edify the minds, of our listeners," Lose said. "By including sermons in each volume, we're hoping to address preachers' needs to receive, as well as give, the Word."

Issued four times a year, a one-year subscription to "In the Company of Preachers" is available on CD ($59.95) or via download ($49.95). The next two issues will feature "Preaching the Gospel" (Fall 2008) and "Preaching Difficult Texts" (Winter 2009). Gift subscriptions are also available. To place a subscription or order individual issues or previous offerings, go to www.luthersem.edu/cbp or call 651-641-3508.