It is time to enter the world of...
One of the most personal things a preacher can do is share what God has revealed for the proclamation event to peers. For decades, the formation of the sermon has been done in isolation. In an attempt to draw upon the theological notion of the working of the Trinity, peer work can and does reflect the perichoretical dance of the three in one. A trusted dance between the preacher and peers enter a space of inquiry and curiosity. Formation of the preacher and the sermon are the work of the group through trusted presentations and trusted discovery times which lead to revelation.
A primary foundation in Peer Preaching is to understand formation. Whatever is forming the preacher - is forming the sermon. Whatever is forming the sermon, is forming the congregation. Whatever is forming the congregation, is forming the mission of the church in sharing good news in the way Mary sang in the Magnificat.
Peer formation is a place of questions, curiosity, exploration, insight, and discovery. As the church continues to change, how can the preacher/sermon formation change as well?
Reverend Monica Hall
Trinity Presbyterian Church
Peer Preaching is a unique and selective process by which the homiletician presents a prepared narrative or sermon to the peer group for the sake of engaging in an inductive pedagogy of learning.
Sounds strange, right? A central part of pastoring is listening. In the peer group, the listeners are engaged in the process of information given by the pastor, questions arise about information given, answers from the preacher are shared and the cycle begins all over again.
As the group engages in curiosity, probing, and clarifying questions the preacher is able to hear questions while working with the group to converse in a shared conversation regarding homiletics.
The peer group, or listeners, are tasked with keeping questions and clarification clear: the peer group does not give advice, attempt to fix, or rescue the preacher.
The coach is tasked with sitting amongst the preacher and the group. The coach listens for cues, helps keep the group stay centered on the preacher's presentation while simultaneously allowing the peer group to build its own learning through giving to each other in things revealed.
The experience is powerful. Each peer group develops its own personality and working. No two groups are alike. Peer Preaching is highly recommend for Solo Pastors who are in the pulpit week in and week out.
I urge you: preach with Monica! Her coaching will infuse you with energy and purpose. She wants to learn your preaching story, help you set practical goals, and resource you for faithful success in your preaching. A mentee and student of nationally recognized professors of preaching, Monica knows what preachers need to know, especially for our changing times. Be ready for her vibrant, compassionate, inclusive spirit. Be ready for new possibilities in your preaching ministry!
-The Reverend Jennifer L. Lord, PhD
The Dorothy B. Vickery Professor of Homiletics and Liturgical Studies,
Monica Hall is a graduate of our David G. Buttrick Certificate Program in Homiletic Peer-Coaching, and she has been rigorously trained to coach groups and individuals in their preaching. She is a gifted, spiritually attentive peer-coach in both group work and individual coaching. She provides a unique combination of homiletical/theological know-how, careful listening, and thoughtful attention to group process and individual accountability. When combined with her spirit of joy and enthusiasm these elements generate a rare kind of coaching experience. I cannot recommend her more highly.
- The Reverend John McClure, PhD
Vanderbilt Divinity School
Peer Group Process with Coach
Preacher Formation: Many preachers are encouraged to participate in spiritual formation. For some time now, the ability to engage in preacher formation remained void. During preacher formation, the preacher presents a small narrative about a preaching experience derived from experience, history, or personal queries. The peer group listens to the narrative, then begins a time of inductive learning through questions related on what the preacher shared. The coach helps the group stick to questions - not advice. The entire group learns from the preacher - and the preacher learns from the questions asked in formation.
Sermon Formation: The preacher presents a sermon arranged with the coach before the session, and the peer group analyzes the sermon and forms questions based on what was heard. The preacher listens to the group discuss the sermon and the coach encourages the group to explore what the preacher has asked in terms of feedback. Again, the peers guided by the coach is centered on asking questions - not giving advice.
Individual Coaching: The preacher meets with the coach after the preacher/sermon formation time, and works through insights, epiphanies, and works in tandem with the coach to solidify goals or desired outcomes of the process.
This model is used in clinical work such as Clinical Pastoral Education. This model is grounded in inductive learning and is most successful when preachers work with peers to find direction.
Peer preaching opportunities for 2020
Encounter Peer Preaching is the proud recipient of a PCUSA grant
from the Restricted Funds Grant for 2020.
The intention of the grant is to strengthen proclamation in the Western Region of the United States.
Our program is localized to the Presbytery of Utah and Plains & Peaks Presbytery.
Five preachers from each Presbytery are awarded $900 in grant money for continuing education.
Prospective dates are:
Utah: Monday, March 9 – Friday, March 13 (Community of Grace)
Plains and Peaks: Monday, October 19 – Friday, October 23 (Westminster PC)
Click HERE for PDF application with specific instructions as to how to apply.
Encounter Peer Preaching is honored the PCUSA is invested in strengthening proclamation
and is prepared to bring a new, exciting, and transformative education to willing homileticians.
Things a preacher can expect from this program:
* Preacher formation through group work: More times than not, preachers are often fearful of sharing personal experiences which allow space for questions/clarification which then leads to introspection. In the work of the church, it is through the binding together of several people to do the work of good news. While requiring energy, attention, and honesty - it is hard work - but worthy work. It is a practice that benefits the preacher as vulnerability invites the preacher through a door to new room of discovery. Trust is also required of those who are sitting with the preacher. Trust of being able to share intimate and at times painful discoveries; but there is also joyous and celebratory discoveries as well. Affirmation of gifts, encouragement and validation, and a true zeal for the call of preaching is often felt and experienced. These kinds of experiences are not available in broader community kinds of gatherings rather it is an intentional choice to educate and form with peers.
*Sermon formation through group work: Preachers call me asking to skip this part of the formation. It is natural, I think, because vulnerability is hard. It takes courage to show our work to one another especially when the formation is about discovering how the sermon event came to be. Most preachers hear, "great sermon" or "what a difficult text" or "what a lovely haircut" several Sundays in a row. To be able to sit with professionals which share a common task in homiletics is a sign of pointing toward formation. It is gradual, but a healthy step in trusting peers to ask questions that do not fix or advice give but rather rightly desire to help the preacher gain insight through curiosity. It is a beautiful model of ecclesial work and as a coach, witnessing sermon formation sessions where the preacher walks through the door of discovery is life changing. Which then goes into the pulpit for the congregation to hear life changing words which then goes into the world to share life changing good news.
It is all connected on purpose.
Forming the preacher, forming the sermon, which then forms the church.
Admittedly, this kind of education is not something the preacher simply shows up to on the day it begins. There is preparation, writing, reading, recording of sermon, communication with the coach, and then a commitment to covenant with peers for a formation time for the sake of God's word going out into the world. We preachers have a wonderful call to the pulpit; but, if we are not being formed, how are our congregations being formed?
Feel free to email me or call me if you are interested in forming a group in your local area. I will bring the tools needed for the group to engage in learning formation and how to continue it once our gathering is complete. I will be available for coaching past the gathering if needed because I believe the church is in dire need of preachers wanting to be formed anew.
A good peer group is made up of five people. Four is sufficient and healthy.
The church universal is being formed by the words we preach each week. Formation together as preachers is a serious yet wonderful way of binding together for the sake of the kingdom of God and repairing the world.