The Center for Excellence in Preaching
Published by Scott Hoezee
Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching
As its name obviously suggests, the Center for Excellence in Preaching (CEP) is designed primarily to help preachers in the writing of sermons. CEP strives to jump start every pastor’s creativity in engaging God’s Word, inspiring them to produce lively sermons of power and beauty. In the Fall of 2021, CEP launched a new website, cepreaching.org, that restructured our existing, high-quality content and now provides an immersive experience with easy-to-find sermon commentary for all preachers. It also includes a new Preaching Connections section allowing pastors to search for relevant illustrations and quotes to fit preaching topics and themes. Since the launch of the new website, CEP has had as many as 17,000 different visitors to the site in just one month!
Probably most of those visitors are pastors but in the spirit of the Priesthood of All Believers, we want to encourage many more people in the church to consider using the resources on the CEP website. Every church has Bible study leaders, and the sermon commentaries on the website provide lots of insight and ideas for Bible Study groups eager to dig deeply into God’s Word. Churches also have Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, and others who are asked to do opening devotions for various events. Again, the information on a wealth of Bible texts contained in the sermon commentaries would be helpful for many people in the church. Just search for the Bible passage you are looking at and results will pop up!
We would also encourage all church members to point their pastors to the offerings of CEP. There are “Fine Tuning Your Preaching” short teaching videos designed to help pastors shine up some of the most basic skills of sermon writing. CEP continues to offer one-week summer seminars that pastors can participate in as part of their annual study weeks. In the summer of 2021 a seminar on the Seven Deadly sins was led by Neal Plantinga and Scott Hoezee. Additionally a brand new seminar on preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit was led by David Beelen and Joy Bonnema. In summer 2022 a seminar on how pastors deal with grief is slated for July.
As the year 2021 came to a conclusion, so also did CEP’s participation in The Initiative to Strengthen Preaching in North America, a grant program sponsored by Lilly Endowment. From 2014-2021 the Center used generous Lilly grants totaling $750,000 to sponsor numerous Peer Learning Groups throughout the U.S. and Canada. Although the grant program has ended, CEP will continue to sponsor Peer Learning Groups and we encourage pastors to consider forming a group with area peers.
We remain grateful to God for generous donors and for Lilly Endowment who make this vital work possible. Former CTS President Neal Plantinga said at the founding of CEP that the goal was to help preaching in Christ’s church be eventful, an occasion for the Holy Spirit to change lives through the Word preached. We give thanks to God that CEP continues to be able to help support just that kind of preaching ministry.
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