William K. McElvaney Professor of Preaching and Worship
PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
MDiv, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
BS, University of Houston
“Everything I do in my teaching stresses the vital importance of preaching for the life of the church. Every book, article, and lectionary aid I ever wrote has been dedicated to this one idea, inspiring passion for ministry among the church’s ministers.”
Christian Church (DOC), Ordained Minister
Discipline or Specialty
Anyone who has been around me long enough will have heard me say, “I’m on the planet to teach preaching and to preach.’ It’s a rather bold statement, to be sure, but my passion for preaching is equally bold. Inevitably when I meet someone on the golf course or have a conversation on an airplane, the person will ask what I do for a living. My stock reply, “Have you ever been to church and heard a bad sermon? My job is to fix that.” As for how my passion gets translated into the work of research, writing, and teaching, there are several factors that guide my approach, all of them expressed in various ways in the new mission statement of Saint Paul School of Theology.
I believe preaching does indeed transform the world, both in terms of calling people to be change agents but also by speaking truth to power. In many cases, our vision has been too small, our sermons too provincial. I challenge students to consider a larger worldview than the congregation(s) where they serve. An emphasis on social holiness and not just personal holiness is essential to a profound ministry of preaching. In an article to be published this next spring, “Deeply Dialogical: Rethinking the Conversation Called Preaching,” I wrote, “Sad to say, but the church has become the homiletical equivalent of so many news outlets, more interested in Britney Spears’s latest exploits than genocide or global warming. This shallowness is something we preachers should talk about.” My teaching of preaching begins with the notion that our agenda must be the same as Christ’s who in his first sermon proclaimed “good news to the poor” as well as “release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free” (Lk 4:18).
Representative Courses Taught
Lead Faculty, Revitalizing Congregations DMin Track
Introduction to Preaching
Preaching Literary Forms of the New Testament
Preaching the Parables of Jesus
The Sermon and the Short Story
“The Narrative Preacher as Filmmaker,” in Minister Magazine (Fall 2010).
Homiletical articles on 1 Cor. 11:23-26, Heb. 10:16-25, and 1 Pet. 4:1-8, in Feasting on the Word, Year C, vol. 2, David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, eds. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009).
“Three Good Preaching Words: Beauty and Justice,” Call to Worship 42 (February 2009), 37-43.
“Deeply Dialogical: Rethinking the Conversation Called Preaching,” Journal for Preachers 32 (Lent 2009), 24-31.
What’s the Shape of Narrative Preaching? Essays in Honor of Eugene L. Lowry, co-editor with David Schlafer (Saint Louis: Chalice Press, 2008).
Homiletical articles on Mark 1:21-28, Mark 1:29-39, Mark 1:40-45, in Feasting on the Word, Year B, vol. 1, Barbara Brown Taylor and David L. Bartlett, eds. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008).
“Rhetorical Criticism” and “Comparison,” in New Interpreter’s Bible Handbook on Preaching (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2008).
Preaching Matthew, co-author with David May (Saint Louis: Chalice Press, 2007).