A Thankful Heart: Contours of Christian Gratitude

July 24 – 28 | 8:45am – 12:00pm | Calvin Theological Seminary

Colossians 3 offers instructions for Christians who have died and risen with Jesus Christ: keep the rhythm going.  Keep on dying and rising.  Put to death impurity, evil desire, wrath, slander, malice.  Instead, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, gratitude, forgiveness.  Then St. Paul turns to gratitude: Be thankful. Sing with gratitude in your hearts.  Give thanks to God the Father through the Lord Jesus.

Questions arise: What is gratitude?  What are some basic contours of gratitude understood simply from a humane or common grace point of view?  What additions or angularities mark a Christian understanding of gratitude?  How is gratitude an engine of joy?  Of good works?  How is gratitude a regnant virtue of Jesus Christ?  Which 5-6 Biblical texts come to mind in the category “rich gratitude texts I have preached or would like to preach?”  Virtues are often misunderstood.  What are a couple of obvious misunderstandings of the biblical virtue of gratitude?  What are the obstacles in some contemporary North American cultures to the recommendation and adoption of gratitude?  How can we preach gratitude without moralism?  Without inadvertently preaching obsequiousness?  How might gratitude motivate or mark congregational prayer?  Other elements of worship?  What practical steps may Christians take to cultivate gratitude?

In five days of reading and discussion, the seminar will address such questions, always with an eye on enhancing preaching and other forms of leading worship.


Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Calvin Theological Seminary President Emeritus, Senior Research Fellow, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Scott Hoezee, Calvin Theological Seminary Professor of Preaching, Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching.

Funds provided by the Center for Excellence in Preaching (CEP) at Calvin Theological Seminary

Daily Schedule: On each of the five days, our seminar begins promptly at 8:45am with Morning Prayers and concludes at noon. Afternoons are free.

Application information:

Persons involved full-time in church ministries and those who prepare such persons for ministry are welcome to apply. Thanks to generous underwriting by the CEP, the cost for coming to this week-long event will be very modest. The church of each participant accepted into the seminar will be asked to pay a $150 registration fee for its pastor, who will also receive a stipend from the CEP to help off-set travel costs. Lodging will be provided at the Prince Conference Center on the Calvin College campus, beginning Sunday July 23. Meals will include breakfast and lunch each day, Monday-Friday. Group activities, including some dinners at area restaurants, are being planned for a couple of the evenings. The books for the seminar will also be provided. The books will be sent out to the participants early enough so that they can be read in advance of arrival in Grand Rapids (GRR).


  • Submit a Curriculum Vitae listing your education, work history, current position, etc.
  • Submit a short essay of approximately 500 words indicating what interests you about this seminar
  • Submit contact information (address, phone, fax, email) so that we can get back in touch with you.

Please send all application material to

Rev. Scott Hoezee

preaching@calvinseminary.edu (preferred) OR

Calvin Theological Seminary

3233 Burton Street SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49507-4387

All applications must be submitted by March 15, 2017