Preaching--Study and Teaching


William Hisker D.Min.
The research study explores the theological and social-psychological forces that discourage the preaching of the prophetic message of the Gospel. The study was conducted with seventy-four volunteers and six permanent deacons in the Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The study used a combination of quantitative and qualitative surveys and interviews. The hypothesis explored was whether or not the use of narrative techniques, specifically Narrative 4 story exchange would be useful as a technique for preparing congregations to be open to the challenges presented by Catholic social teaching. Additionally, the research sought to determine whether or not the six deacons who participated in the study would find narrative a useful technique in their preaching and evangelization efforts.

Participants completed an empathy profile before viewing one of seven different videos produced by the United States Conference of Bishops on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person; the Call to Family, Community, and Participation; the Option for the Poor and Vulnerable; Rights and Responsibilities; Solidarity; Care for God’s Creation; and the Dignity of Work. Participants were asked to rate the videos and indicate how often they heard preaching of the subject matter of the videos. Participants were also given the opportunity to participate in a Narrative 4 story exchange. Participants were then asked to complete the Interpersonal Reactivity Index a second time to see if there was a statistically significant change in their empathy profile. In addition, participants were asked to evaluate their experience with the story exchange. While there was no significant statistical change, as measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, the interviewees demonstrated a high level of approval for the story exchange as a vehicle for improving the empathetic response of a congregation and as a useful technique for use in the preaching of Catholic social teaching.

Resting to Preach: A Biblical—Theological Evaluation of Rest Toward the Preparation of Sermons

Stephen Trent Thomas M.Div.

Resting to Preach: A Biblical—Theological Evaluation of Rest
Towards the Preparation of Sermons

This project will argue that, because deliberate rest is restorative to the intellect and to creativity, and because preaching preparation is a creative and intellectual endeavor, preachers should intentionally incorporate deliberate rest into their sermon-preparation process. The writer will explore the biblical basis for rest using six passages of Scripture. Genesis 2:1-3 and Exodus 20:8-11 will establish the importance of Sabbath rest. Psalm 19 will describe rest as one experiences nature. Matthew 11:25-30 will reveal the rest Jesus promises to those who are weak and heavy-laden. Mark 6:30-44 will develop the rest Jesus provides to His followers when they become overwhelmed with ministry. Hebrews 3:18-4:13 will explore the rest promised to the obedient.
The writer will present research from scientific sources. Rest, Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Sooing-Kim Pang, The Wandering Mind by Michael Corbalis, In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré, and The Secret World of Sleep by Penelope Lewis are the sources that will reveal the value of sleep to the intellect and to human creativity.
The writer will survey Christian authors to provide biblical insight into the value of sleep. These books are Saints’ Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter, The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan, The Art of Rest by Adam Mabry, Subversive Sabbath by A. J. Swoboda, and The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer. These authors accentuate the necessity of rest for the follower of Jesus.
The project’s goal is to help preachers improve their preaching by adding various forms of rest during their sermon-preparation process.


Zachary Andrew Tunnell D.Min.
This project argues that a correlation exists between healthy practices within the local church and the faithful preaching of biblically-sound doctrine. Evidence of this correlation is shown by focusing on the faithful interpretation and application of the Trustworthy Sayings of the Pastoral Epistles as modeled by the preaching of Herschel Hobbs.
Beginning with a consideration of God’s plan for preaching to be of first importance within the practices of a local church, this project establishes the importance of biblically-sound doctrine for church health and revitalization. Chapter 2 begins the project’s examination of the Trustworthy Sayings, with each chapter offering an analysis of a related sermon preached by Herschel Hobbs during his pastorate at First Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The Trustworthy Sayings do not appear in the same order as they are in the Pastoral Epistles, but rather are placed so that one saying builds upon the next. First Timothy 1:15 (Chapter 2) addresses soteriological views in Southern Baptist history. First Timothy 4:8-10 (Chapter 3) considers the role of doctrinal preaching in discipling church members who will be devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Chapter 4 considers Titus 3:4-8 and how believers who are devoted to God will also be devoted to good works which honor God. Second Timothy 2:11-13 (Chapter 5) speaks of God’s faithfulness and the hope which His faithfulness provides for the local church. First Timothy 3:1 (Chapter 6) addresses the character of the called and considers the qualifications of a senior pastor.
The project concludes (Chapter 7) with a charge to the pulpit and the local church which, if implemented, will help protect the local church from suffering from doctrinal drift. Three recommendations for steering straight are provided.


William W. Eckert D.Min.

Eckert, William W., MAPS, DMin, Aquinas Institute of Theology, Saint Louis, Missouri, 2021.
Chapter One begins to address an issue with preaching that does not fully integrate the experiences of the community with the Word of God. The chapter covers a brief overview of liturgical preaching, the problem with creating grounded preaching, and the unique qualities of deacons as liturgical preachers in addressing this problem with the guidance of theological reflection.

Chapter Two introduces theological reflection as practical theology and a preaching preparation tool that encourages a dialogue between human experience and Church Traditions (Sacred Scripture, liturgy, beliefs, and teachings).

Chapter Three offers adult education and curriculum development to teach theological reflection as an effective tool of preaching preparation.

Chapter Four explores the current state of preaching within the Archdiocese of Seattle. It includes a summary of conversations with the homiletics and theological reflection instructors in the current deacon formation program. Then, the chapter presents the heart of the project: creating a new unit for the homiletics curriculum in the deacon formation program in collaboration with a small cohort of diocesan deacons.

Chapter Five presents the final version of the new unit for the homiletics program, which was presented to the Archdiocese of Seattle (the Vicar of Clergy, the Director of the Deacon Formation Program, and the homiletics instructor).


Deborah Ruth Zeni MD D.Min.
This thesis research work on best practices of preaching arose out of the researcher’s passion for providing catechists with the means of nurturing a ‘falling-in-love’ with God experience for young children through proclaiming gospel as encounter.
Based on evidence that catechists lack formation in best practices of preaching, the researcher designed and implemented an educational initiative in a multi-site, multi-participant intensive formation program. The researcher used a homiletic grounded in the Paschal Mystery, which located God’s gratuitous and gracious actions on humanity’s behalf as the focus of preaching—giving gospel-power—to any form of preaching carried out during the study.
Within a unique form of pastoral ministry called the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS), employing a qualitative methodology, a constructivist epistemology, and a field-based action research design, the researcher effectively utilized various educational approaches to develop and assess participant competence in preaching using a comprehensive assessment program, and iteratively improving their learning and teaching preaching praxis using program evaluation tools.
The research shows that the curriculum successfully demonstrated that the comprehensive preaching model, which integrated five best practices of preaching for proclaiming the Word with children into the study’s conceptual framework, worked to develop the competence of catechists as preachers of the Good News. Additionally, the research showed that the intervention enabled and empowered the participants to find their preaching voice to speak of God acting mercifully, giving everything, loving unconditionally in the here and now as they experienced God doing in the scriptures.
As such, five best practices of preaching can be used as an effective framework for formation of catechists and educators for teaching preaching as encounter with children and sharing in a happening of grace through the proclamation of the Word.

"Hearing Habakkuk: Lessons on Accurately Applying the Text From the Turkana, Kenya Context"

Graham Robert Blaikie D.Min.
One of Jesus’ favorite sayings, “He who has ears, let him hear,” highlights the divine expectation that the message heard must be heeded—it has to be applied.

“Application” refers to the requirements of the biblical text, and our obedient response to those requirements. Accurate application, therefore, involves “hearing”/heeding what the text requires of us today—but only after we have heard what it required of the original recipients.

This project seeks to explore what constitutes accurate application from within the context of the book of Habakkuk, which a group of Turkana pastors were focusing on in their Bible Pathways training program held at Share International’s SEND Center in Lodwar, Kenya, in July 2017. Habakkuk was the eighth of nine Pathways preaching modules taught to the Turkana pastors over a three-year period by a team of six U.S.-based pastors, including the project writer.

While excellent in many ways, the Pathways curriculum is weak in application. And so, the book of Habakkuk and Turkana provided an excellent context in which to formulate and then test four principles of application.

The project includes a focus on the original applicational intent of the author—a topic that has received minimal treatment in the literature on application. It also explores the significance of what we have termed the “applicational trajectory” of the text (best seen in the distinct applications of Habakkuk 2:4 in its three appearances in the New Testament). It examines the current debate on deriving principles from the text. And it looks at how these principles might be contextualized to Turkana.

The project fieldwork includes observations as and discussions after the Turkana pastors preached, a quiz, presentation of a two-day a seminar titled “Principles of Application from Habakkuk,” a follow-up focus group, and personal interviews.

From Ecclesial Ruin to the Blessed Hope: The Connection between John Nelson Darby's Ecclesiology and His Dispensational Theology in His Sermons

Stephen Mark Fulmer D.Min.
The author examined how the preaching of John Nelson Darby demonstrate a correlation between his ecclesiology and the formation of his dispensational theology. A total of 15 of Darby’s sermons were reviewed within the context of five eschatological themes: (1) the ruin and apostasy of the church, (2) a call to separation and holiness, (3) the blessed hope – Christ’s soon return, (4) the coming eschatological judgment, (5) the church as the bride of Christ. The author concludes that Darby’s sermons are an important resource that reveals that his ecclesiology and his eschatology are developed in a profoundly interconnected manner and reinforce one another.

A Mentoring Program for Pastoral Interns at Calvary Baptist Church, Watertown, WI

Robert Loggans D.Min.
The rationale for this project emerged from a significant need to encourage, promote, develop and train young men preparing for pastoral ministry in the local church setting. While the college and seminary classroom experience is of great value, the practical application of such knowledge under the tutelage of an experienced pastor helps to complete the preliminary preparation for pastoral ministry.

God's call to pastoral ministry is unique and individualized; the call to serve is a call to prepare. The Apostle Paul invested much time in his young protégé Timothy. Paul eventually gave the following characterization of Timothy, "For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state." (Philippians 4:20KJV)

This project (1) states the purpose of investing in those preparing for pastoral ministry, (2) provides theological and Biblical rationale for internships, (3) looks at and considers contemporary literature on internships and mentoring, (4) explains the design and methodology used in the project, (5) develops a narrative of the course of the project, (6) And shares the outcomes and suggestions for intentional mentoring internships in the local church setting.

Several significant findings indicate that internships are vitally important in preparing for pastoral ministry. Those preparing for pastoral ministry often desire an experienced pastor to make a significant investment in their lives. I have found that many pastors deeply desire to share their life and ministry experiences with those who are younger. Mentoring takes time, flexibility and understanding as each individual preparing for pastoral ministry is special and unique. It is a delightful privilege and joy to have part in preparing students for ministry.

From Reading To Preaching: Training First-Generation Korean-American Catholic Lay Ministers as Preachers through Online Sessions

The Catholic Church had a conflicting stance towards lay preaching in the past. However, lay preaching is feasible nowadays outside of Mass since the Code of Canon Law does not prevent the laity from preaching, and the Baptismal grace leads all the baptized to witness their faith. However, the laypeople still hesitated to practice the ministry. The researcher wondered if the lack of preaching education caused hesitation and decided to train laypeople to be preachers.
Six lay ministers and a layperson from a Korean Catholic church in Boston participated in the six-week online sessions. The researcher made fifteen instructional videos on focus and function statements and delivery of the sermons. Watching them, each participant submitted two drafts of their sermons and two preaching videos, and had two or three individual review sessions with the researcher, depending on his/her needs. The researcher measured each participant’s progress using the grading table of St. Meinrad seminary. The changes between the two grades from the first and the second preachings showed that the participants improved their preaching skills over the course of the training. The researcher found that preaching ministry was a teachable subject for the laity through online training.
To triangulate and assess the research outcome both qualitatively and quantitatively, the researcher also provided each participant with pre-training and post-training Likert-scale questionnaires and interviewed each participate using Watson’s five categories. In general, the participants appreciated the direction, convenience, and productiveness of the online teaching program. However, some participants pointed out cultural factors that would make the Korean and Korean-American congregation feel uncomfortable with the ministry. The researcher learned that he needs to study further and to strategize carefully in order to ease the cultural barrier when training future participants.


Gregg Michael Caggianelli D.Min.
Can the integration of leading elements in the four dimensions of priestly formation contribute to the formation of good preachers? Building on the premise that a good preacher is one who is not only competent in the skills needed for good preaching, but is also a person who authentically lives in a way that gives witness to the Gospel preached, the author searches for how these preachers can be formed for our age.

Chapter One explores the intrinsic connection between God’s Word and God’s deeds as the pattern for authentic preaching. The investigation asks whether good seminary formation contributes to the formation of good preachers.

Chapter Two highlights the vision of St. Dominic and introduces the idea of the preacher’s formation using the work of Humbert of Romans. Noting similar patterns in St. Charles Borromeo and St. Vincent de Paul, this chapter leads into the reforms called for from Vatican II until the present. The Church’s formation documents become the foundation for generating an extensive list of specific formation elements identified for development in a candidate during seminary formation.

Chapter Three builds various assessments tools used in the pastoral appropriation, seeking to identify and highlight important formation elements from the four dimensions of priestly formation that contribute to the formation of good preachers.

Chapter Four extensively explores the qualitative and quantitative results, highlighting the significant correlation between the integration of leading elements of priestly formation and improved preaching quality.

Chapter Five suggests five ways for sharing this project’s findings, hoping that this thesis will allow seminary formators to accompany developing preachers in their understanding of how personal reflection across all four dimensions of their seminary formation contributes to their development as preachers able to not only preach well but live as witnesses to the Gospel.
Subscribe to Preaching--Study and Teaching