The USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture is launching a new project that seeks to help faith leaders think about their preaching in an ever-changing social and cultural landscape.
With support from the Lilly Endowment, CRCC’s Compelling Preaching Initiative will include public programming directed at leaders across faiths, as well as a diverse cohort of Christian preachers in Southern California. This cohort will build networks of support for additional preachers, with the aim of re-centering the importance of preaching for congregations and in public life.
Find out about CRCC’s future programming
In CRCC’s conversation with faith leaders, they have voiced concerns about how their sermons fit into a world characterized by declining religious participation and cultural and political polarization. They expressed a desire to figure out how to preach in a way that engages their members and connects with the rest of their ministries.
“Through preaching, faith leaders can bring their core values to bear on efforts to improve the communities that they serve,” says Richard Flory, CRCC’s Executive Director. “This grant from the Lilly Endowment will allow us to fulfill our mission of supporting faith leaders in becoming full partners in positive social change.”
The program launches with a one-day event on February 15, 2024, featuring a keynote address by the Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, author of Beautiful and Terrible Things: Faith, Doubt, and Discovering a Way Back to Each Other and pastor of Community Church of Honolulu.
For the cohort, CRCC seeks to recruit a diverse group of Christian preachers from various Christian traditions, denominations and locales around Southern California, representing Los Angeles’ many racial and ethnic groups. Each cohort member will receive funding to establish a local working group of preachers interested in supporting one another.
In addition to focusing on the art and craft of preaching, the program will include training on how to bring their message beyond the four walls of their congregations, through media and OpEd writing. Discussions and programs will allow participants to link theology to important issues that affect the lives of church members and their communities.
The Lilly Endowment launched the Compelling Preaching Initiative in 2022 because of its interest in supporting projects that help to nurture the religious lives of individuals and families and foster the growth and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States.