This summer from July 18-22 the Center for Excellence in Preaching hosted a new seminar under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. David Lose. Dr. Lose is a longtime teacher of preaching at Luther Seminary in Minneapolis and has been serving the last two years as president of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His most recent book, Preaching at the Crossroads, has been used in the Center’s recent Peer Learning Groups as part of its Lilly Grant program. Because Dr. Lose’s book had been so well received by these groups, having Dr. Lose host a week-long seminar seemed like a natural idea. The seminar was attended by sixteen pastors from around the U.S. and Canada and one pastor from Jamaica. The participants came from Jamaica, Nova Scotia, Alberta, New Jersey, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio, Minnesota, Ontario, Connecticut, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan and together they represented nine different denominations.
Following a time of Morning Prayers each day, Dr. Lose led the pastors in conversations that looked at the changing contours of our postmodern, post-Christian era in the early twenty-first century. The impact of media and of social networking has had a profound influence on how people learn and, additionally, on what they expect from also their churches and certainly from the weekly sermon. A theme throughout the week was Dr. Lose’s contention that one of the biggest changes we have witnessed across the last century is the loss of the biblical story. People—even people who attend church regularly—no longer have a good sense for the big narrative arc of the Bible. They don’t understand their individual lives as fitting inside God’s larger story. Preachers, therefore, cannot just casually refer to or allude to biblical history or bits and pieces of the Bible’s story and assume that people will “get it.” They won’t. Somehow preachers need to start re-building into people’s consciousness the larger narrative of God’s universe that they have lost. Each day a specific biblical text was also studied by the larger group to see what this will look like in practice.
The seminar group, along with CEP Director Scott Hoezee and CEP Program Administrator Mary Bardolph, also enjoyed lunch together each day. On the first and final evenings of the seminar the group also enjoyed dining out at two of Grand Rapids’ fine restaurants. Participants repeatedly expressed appreciation to the donors who have supported and who continue to fund CEP as that generosity makes such seminars and all the key learning that happens in them possible.
-Rev. Scott Hoezee
Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching