Introduction to Preaching - HM 1001

Introduction to Preaching
HM 1001
Spring, 2009

Jana Childers                        Sam Alexander            Veronica Goines
451-2859                             456-6760                      332-1011         
Course Description:
Introduction to the composition and delivery of sermons with attention given to hermeneutical and theological issues. Examination of selected homiletical models. Practice preaching. Instructor and class critique. Sermons recorded and reviewed.

Learning Goals:
This course reflects SFTS’ commitment to the following Habits and Skills:

  • Historical and theological responsibility in the interpretation of Scripture and all communication; the ability to represent accurately the words and meaning of others and to account for one’s interpretation.
  • An ability to ground theology in practical reality.
  • The ability to lead a congregation in Reformed Worship.
  • The ability to preach literate, thoughtful, scripture-based sermons.
  • The ability to articulate personal faith and nurture the spiritual life of a congregation and its members.
  •  Knowledge of and respect for the Church of Jesus Christ and its role in God’s ecumenical mission; knowledge of , respect for, and intelligent use of the Church’s manifold traditions; a sense of how and why theological reasoning has been done in the past, and in the present by others.

Student Learning Outcomes:                                               

  • Students will be able to define key homiletical and hermeneutical concepts and apply them in the evaluation of sermons.
  • Students will create and perform sermons that are logically and theologically coherent.
  • When presented with a specific sermon preached in a particular context, students will be able to identify key contextual issues and reflect upon their importance to that sermon.

Note: See Measuring of Student Learning, p. 3, for a description of how each SLO will be evaluated.

Preaching Requirement:
Each student will preach as described on the class calendar. A full manuscript will be required for the final sermon and will be submitted to the section instructor before preaching. Each instructor will specify his or her own timetable for the submission of the manuscript. Those who do not submit manuscripts on time will not be allowed to preach.

Reading Requirement:
Reading will be completed as assigned on the class calendar. The following four text books will be used:

            Paul Scott Wilson, The Four Pages of the Sermon. Abingdon, 1999.
            Jana Childers, Performing the Word. Abingdon, 1998.
            O.Wesley Allen, The Homiletic of All Believers. Westminster John Knox, 2005.
            Jana Childers, ed. Birthing the Sermon. Chalice, 2001.

            Andre Resner, ed. Just Preaching. Chalice, 2003.
            Jung Young Lee, Korean Preaching. Abingdon, 1997.
            Henry H. Mitchell, Celebration and Experience in Preaching. Abingdon, 1990.
            Barbara Brown Taylor, The Preaching Life. Cowley, 1993.

Required Field Experience:
Students will attend two worship services that offer a cross-cultural experience in preaching. One of these requirements will be fulfilled by hearing The Rev. Veronica Goines preach at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Marin City. Those students who are unable for reasons of scheduling to attend a service at St. Andrews, will notify the instructor in the first two weeks of the semester and suitable alternatives will be negotiated. A one-page reflection paper on the two experiences is due to the section leader on the last day of class.

Required Final Paper:
The student may choose between three options for the course’s final paper:

  • Compare two major homiletical forms, theoreticians or “schools”.
  • Compare a major preacher’s theory with her or his practice.
  • Compare three preachers’ sermons (must include review of at least one performance of each preacher).

Each paper will begin with a five to seven page review of the literature (minimum of three books chosen from the recommended list, further reading list or negotiated with the section leader) and include five pages of analysis and commentary. 10- 12 pages.


Sermon Recording:
Student sermons 4 and 5 will be recorded on a VHS tape provided by the student. Each student is required to review the tape of sermon 4 within a week of its presentation and submit a one-page reflection paper to his or her section leader.

Measuring Student Learning:
The student’s work will be evaluated on the basis of sermon performance, contribution to class discussion and participation in class critique.  Assessment for each student will take into consideration that student’s improvement and relative standing in the class. The student will also be measured against the instructor’s normative rule of performance.

Achievement of Student Learning Outcomes will be assessed as follows:

  • The ability to define homiletical and hermeneutical concepts and apply them in the evaluation of sermons is assessed by
    • the quality of the student’s contribution to classroom sermon critique
    • accuracy of answers on quizzes
    • the student’s ability to identify significant issues in the reflection papers
    • the quality of analysis and evaluation offered in the final paper
  • The ability to create and perform coherent sermons will be judged by the students’ sermon performance. (see note above)
  • The ability to identify contextual issues will be evaluated on the basis of the quality of the student’s contribution to the critique of preached sermons, and field experience paper.


Sermons: 75%
Class participation: 15%
Reflection papers: 10%

In a performance course such as this one, unexcused absences impact the group process so important to student learning. More than one unexcused absence will be reflected in the student’s final grade. More than two unexcused absences will result in the student failing the course.

NOTE: If, for reasons of documented disability, you need to make special arrangements for meeting course requirements, please speak to Dr. Childers in the first two weeks of the semester so that such arrangements can be made in a timely fashion.


  • Feb 2  Preaching as a Theological Enterprise

                       Introduction to the course. Overview of approaches to the discipline.
                     “Why preach?”  The nature and purpose of preaching. Definitions of and   
                       models for preaching. The difference between preaching and other forms of
                       public speaking. The importance of the Biblical text and theology in

  • Feb 9 SECTIONS: Short Sermon #1 - 3-4 minutes
  • Feb 16 HOLIDAY: No Class
  • Feb 23  Composing the Sermon - The importance of form and the nitty-gritty of composition. Resonance between the form of the text and the form of the sermon. The preacher’s    process. Sign-posting, oral structure, fortifying transitions, editing and other Saturday night activities. Quiz.                

                                   Paul Scott Wilson, The Four Pages of the Sermon

  • Mar  2  SECTIONS: Short Sermon #2 - 5 minutes
  • Mar 9  Exegesis and Hermeneutics in Preaching

Introduction to interpretive issues in preaching. Exegetical methods and their use in preaching. Principles of interpretation. The use and abuse of the Bible in the pulpit. Survey of textual preaching styles. The preacher’s use of self; creativity in preaching. Quiz.

            Jana Childers, ed., Birthing the Sermon

  • Mar 16  SECTIONS: Short Sermon #3 - 7 minutes
  • Mar 23 SPRING BREAK: No Class
  • Mar 30  Performing the Word
  • Overview of oral interpretation skills in preaching and worship. How to read text, manuscript and audience. Use of body, voice, intuition and imagination. Quiz.   

    Jana Childers, Performing the Word
  •  Ap 6  SECTIONS: Short Sermon #4 - 10 minutes
  • Ap 13 Exegeting the Congregation Introduction to contextual issues in preaching. How to ‘read’ a congregation. The use of audience analysis methods, research tools, prayer and pastoral wisdom. Conversational approaches to preaching. Methods for engaging various types of congregations. Quiz.
  •   O. Wesley Allen, The Homiletic of All Believers                                   

      Final Paper Due

  • Ap 20 Final Sermons  - 15 minutes
  • Ap 27 Final Sermons - 15 minutes
  • May 4 Final Sermons - 15 minutes
  • May 11 Final Sermons - 15 minutes


For Further Reading
Paul Scott Wilson, ed. New Interpreter’s Handbook of Preaching, Abingdon, 2008.
Jana Childers and Clayton J. Schmit, Performance in Preaching, Baker, 2008.
Barbara Lundblad, Marking Time. Abingdon, 2007.
John McClure, Preaching Words. WJK, 2007.
Lucy Lind Hogan, Graceful Speech. WJK, 2006
Joseph M. Webb, Preaching for the Contemporary Service. Abingdon, 2006.
Paul Scott Wilson, Preaching and Homiletical Theory. Chalice, 2004.
Jana Childers, The Purposes of Preaching, ed. Chalice, 2004.
Linda L. Clader, Voicing the Vision: Imagination and Prophetic Preaching, 2003
Richard Lischer,  The Company of Preachers. Eerdmans, 2002
Charles L. Campbell, The Word Before the Powers. WJK, 2002.
Eugene Lowry, The Homiletical Plot. WJK, 2001.
Fred B. Craddock, As One Without Authority. Chalice, 2001. 4th ed.
Cleo LaRue, The Heart of Black Preaching. Westminster John Knox, 2001.
Mary Donovan Turner & Mary Lin Hudson, Saved from Silence. Chalice, 1999.
Barbara Brown Taylor, Home By Another Way,Cowley, 1999.
Ronald J. Allen, Patterns of Preaching . Chalice, 1998.                      
Lucy Rose, Sharing the Word: Preaching in the Roundtable Church. WJK,1997.  
Nora Tubbs Tisdale, Preaching as Local Theology and Folk Art, Fortress, 1997.
Thomas G. Long and Cornelius Plantinga, eds A Chorus of Witnesses. Eerdmans, 1994