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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
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PREACH Initiative funded by $1.25 million

Equips pastors for compelling preaching

Taylor University is establishing its PREACH Initiative to provide resources to encourage compelling preaching after receiving a $1.25 Million Lilly Endowment Grant.

“I pastored for 30 years,” Gregory Dyson, vice president for spiritual life and intercultural leadership and campus pastor, said. “And during that time there were many moments when I wanted to enhance something that was happening — the work that I was doing with the local church.”

The PREACH Initiative — an acronym for Preparing, Resourcing, Equipping and Coaching for Homiletic Excellence — will introduce various resources for those interested in preaching, including a new preaching minor, an opportunity to earn a preaching certificate, various master classes and a Joseph P. Blades Award for Preaching Excellence, Dyson said.

The goal of these resources is to encourage and guide pastors — future and current — to preach well with conviction, passion, clarity and biblical correctness. The inspiration for Lilly’s Compelling Preaching Grant comes from an expressed desire and need from churches, both regionally and nationally, for more compelling preachers, Dyson said.

Dyson, alongside Provost Jewerl Maxwell and Skip Trudeau, vice president of Student Development and Intercollegiate Athletics and program chair of master of arts in higher education, collaborated to apply for the grant from the Lilly Endowment.

“This grant and funding will give us the opportunity to better prepare pastors and ideally connect Taylor to churches throughout the United States,” Maxwell said.

The PREACH Initiative will specifically focus on emphasizing compelling preaching, Dyson said.

Funded by the 5-year grant received earlier this spring, the initiative intends to work with both students on-campus and pastors in local churches, Trudeau said.

“[It’s this idea of] ‘How do we infuse energy and effectiveness and apply different kinds of cultural lenses and technological lenses and things like that and make the art of preaching even better,” Trudeau said. “And so [it involves] working with people who aspire to be and people who already are preaching to kind of help train and equip them to just be better at it.”

The university intends to establish strong relationships with various organizations to further its goal of assisting pastors. Some organizations include: the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the Baptist Fellowship Association and the Pastor’s Legacy Ministries, Dyson said.

As the Reade Memorial Liberal Arts Center is renovated in the next few months, the university will also create a preaching laboratory in the building to make space for people to practice the trade. Alongside the new space, the university is also in the process of hiring a PREACH Initiative Director, Dyson said.

The grant will provide resources for five years. However, the university hopes to continue the initiative beyond those five years, Maxwell said.

“The idea that [the PREACH Initiative could] be something unique to help a pastor become a better preacher and teacher — that is a unique thing,” Dyson said. “I hope to see the impact of that [and] that we would see churches positively impacted and pastors gaining the tools that they need to accomplish the work that God's calling them to do. I hope that we see that as the big outworking that we see happen.”