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Karl Schafer

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This doctoral project seeks to improve the preaching of California’s southern San Joaquin Valley Presbyterian pastors by guiding them to discover the theological purposes for their preaching. This goal is pursued by creating the framework for a theological, historical, biblical, and contextual ministry seminar and forming the strategy of peer-learning and peer-preaching groups.

While the current trajectory of preaching literature and instruction attends to technical improvements and skill enhancements, this project appeals for preachers to respond theologically to the question: Why do preachers preach? When preachers can articulate theological purposes for their preaching, they will more likely renew their vocational callings to preach and connect with a postmodern, post-Christian, and globally focused population that craves authentic, astute preachers.

The opening part of this project explores the context of preaching, from the national perspective to the local situation, and observes that this network of Presbyterian pastors in California’s southern San Joaquin Valley has yet to address how shifts in twenty-first-century culture impact preaching. The second part of this project surveys the theological and historical landscape of preaching and concludes with biblical and theological themes most pertinent for preaching today. Finally, as a means toward guiding pastors to discover why they preach, a localized strategy is proposed in detail. Committed and culturally sensitive pastors from California’s southern San Joaquin Valley Presbyterian congregations will be selected to participate in Preach on Purpose, a three-month peer-learning and peer-preaching ministry seminar. This group will explore biblical, historical, theological, and contextual themes of preaching, discover and define theological purposes for preaching, and then practice and evaluate each other’s preaching that incorporates those purposes in peer-preaching groups. Following an evaluation period by participants and leadership, this localized project will inform more widespread future applications of this strategy.

Theological Mentor: Kurt Fredrickson, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Fredrickson, Kurt

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Presbyterian Church; Preaching; Clergy; Post-ordination training


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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