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Peer Groups – Overview

To help enhance the practice of preaching out in the community and among pastors already working in congregations, PCPE has developed a two-year Peer Learning Program

Guided by a facilitator, a group of pastors meets ten times during the first year. In keeping with PCPE’s focus on storytelling as a way to share the Gospel, group members read and discuss selected material supporting that theme. In addition, they prepare and deliver sermons for their group and their congregations, gathering feedback from fellow Peer Group members in the process.

During the second year, the group is invited to home in on a particular aspect of storytelling and explore more deeply.

The Peer Group Program

The Structure

Established in the fall of 2014, our four current peer groups have ten members and a facilitator, a pastor with a record of effective preaching.

The groups meet 10 times over a two-year period in day-long sessions devoted to various aspects of preaching and story. Peer group members have conversation and view one another’s sermons for constructive feedback. The first year, the group is invited to choose options from selected reading materials that focus on the storytelling theme. The second year, each group has seed money to pursue a project related to preaching and story.

The Goals

  • Deepen our understanding of the anthropological appetite for story
  • Sharpen our powers of observation as we become more attentive to the stories within us, around us and in biblical texts
  • Develop our skills in the craft of telling stories
  • Strengthen our theological motive for telling stories
  • Develop a toolbox of plats so that our sermons have a forward moving underlying narrative sequence that takes advantage of the dynamic of conflict and creative anticipation (suspense).
  • Learn strategies for the respectful use of others’ stories.
  • Learn strategies for using story to approach difficult topics.
  • Discern more clearly where God is at work in our own stories.
  • Enhance our freedom in performing the sermon and minimize our reliance on notes

The Rationale for our Storytelling Theme

  • Anthropological – people both need and love stories
  • Biblical – much of scripture is in story form
  • Communicational – sermons need to have a plot, not just points
  • Theological/Incarnational – God has the best story of all!

Timing

We will launch our second cohort of peer groups in Fall 2015. Over a four year period, eight groups will be formed to work together on improving preaching through attention to story. Each group will have a facilitator who will stay with them over the two years.

New peer groups will be formed beyond Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana in future years.

 

For more information about joining or forming a Peer Learning Group, please contact us at preaching@smu.edu .