Programs & Resources

Center for Preaching Excellence

The Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence is a new initiative of Perkins School of Theology made possible by a generous five-year grant from the Lilly Foundation. Perkins was one of several seminaries invited to submit proposals for initiatives that would enhance the teaching of preaching in seminary classrooms and the preaching of working pastors through peer learning groups.

Dr. Alyce McKenzie

Dr. Michael Waters and David K. Johnson, mentor and student, were paired during the inaugural spring 2014 Mentor Pastor group
Photo: Sam Hodges

The theme of the Center is “Telling the Story: Storytelling as a Vehicle for Sharing the Gospel.” The Director is the Rev. Dr. Alyce M. McKenzie, Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship. The Center will be guided by an Executive Board composed of members of the Perkins faculty as well as an Advisory Panel consisting of members of the broader SMU faculty and leaders in the church and community.

In its first six months, the Center has launched an innovative pairing of Introductory preaching students with seasoned, effective preachers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The mentor program proved instructive and inspiring for students and mentors alike. The next step is the launching of four peer groups of pastors from Arkansas, North Texas, Houston and Louisiana. Each group will be led by a facilitator known for their experience and effectiveness in preaching. Groups will meet 10 times a year to study aspects of storytelling and preaching and to give one another constructive feedback on one another’s sermons. Additional peer groups from other geographical areas will launch each fall.

Dr. Alyce McKenzie

Dr. Alyce McKenzie, Director Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence

The kickoff event for the peer groups will be August 25 and 26, 2014. Groups will gather at Perkins to get to know one another and to experience workshops in storytelling and improvisation as a tool for preparation and delivery of sermons. Future plans for the Center include setting up one-on-one coaching for those who wish to improve their preaching in specific ways as well as innovative programs that collaborate with other events at Perkins, SMU and Churches of various denominations in the community and region.