So It's Been A While...

If any of you have been following my research (which I don’t think even my own mother is doing!) you may have noticed a dramatic decline in updates on this website. There is a reason. My family and church were awarded the National Clergy Renewal Grant from the Lilly Endowment. We were given a fully-funded four-month sabbatical from life and ministry at Community Church in order to “remember the story” of God’s love for us personally, as a married couple, as a family, and as part of God’s great love story for the world.

From January through April, I’ve spent time alone in an off-grid cabin in Maine; my family has spent a month in a beach house near Jaco, Costa Rica; Joanna and I spent a few days in Paris before embarking on an 7-day cruise in the Mediterranean, and we took our entire family to Kampala, Uganda for two weeks for a missions trip to Watoto Church and Watoto Childcare Ministries.

I have only returned from this time away very recently. And only now am I re-engaging in my research project, hoping that I can recover any of the momentum lost with the various schools I’ve been interacting with over the last year.

Here are some photos from the last four months.

It really was an incredible blessing.

But I’m back.

EHS Here We Come


This year’s EHS annual conference is almost here. I’m at Logan Airport, getting on a plane to New Orleans for this year’s gathering! Looking forward to seeing familiar faces again, and meeting some new people who are passionate about preaching and scholarship.

This year, as Phase 1 of my research is drawing to a close, Dr. Gibson and I realized that members of EHS are a perfect population to include in this research project! Drawing from many, many denominations yet sharing a commitment to the Gospel and the Word of God, it would be amazing to get this group to be participants in the study by having them fill out the survey.

To that end, I sponsored the conference. Yes. Branding my sponsorship under the “” banner, I will have a table in the sponsors area, with tall banners and an embroidered polo shirt with matching id lanyard, handing out invitations to everyone I can! So stop by and introduce yourself, and grab an invitation. Fill out the survey at some point over the three days of the conference!

You can go right to the EHS Survey page by clicking here:

Northern Officially Joins the Study


The fall is a busy time of year to approach schools about joining a research study. But as of this week, Northern has officially joined this project! Special thanks goes out to Dr. Bill Schiell, president of Northern Seminary, for his support and willingness to create a preaching-specific list of alumni to receive the survey invitation! I’d also like to thank Dr. Jason Gile, Dean of Program Development and Innovation, for dialoguing with me about the best way to conduct this survey, and also David J. Hailey, the Director of Development, for working with me to build the email invitation to the survey. I am so appreciative of your partnership and your support in this project!

The Northern Seminary survey invitations should go out by Mid-October. Look for that link to go “live” on the “Take the Survey” section of the website in the coming weeks.

Gordon-Conwell Alumni Are Amazing.


So we're one week into collecting data.  The first population I've reached out to is the Gordon-Conwell Alumni community.  You are all amazing.  According to Mailchimp, the average "Open" rate for emails sent to religion-based mailing lists is 30.9%.  Gordon-Conwell alumni just blew that away at 55.3% just opening the email to see what it's about.  But beyond just opening an email, getting someone to actually click on a link in that email is even harder.  The industry average, again in the category for religion, is a mere 3.2%.  Gordon-Conwell alumni have clicked through (either to the website or to the survey itself) at a rate of 17.6 percent... after just one week.  That's more than 5.5x the industry average!

What can we take away from these numbers?  Nothing, really, with any level of certainty or credibility.  But if I were to speculate?  I'd say that Gordon-Conwell alumni love the church, care deeply about the preaching of God's Word, and are interested in research that furthers our understanding of preaching and improves our practice of preaching.

As of today, a full 10% of people who received my invitation have clicked through AND filled out the survey and submitted it.  I am so thankful for the responses I have received so far!  Thank you for taking the time to participate in this research.  You've encouraged this researcher and fired me up to keep this project moving forward!




It's Alive!


As of Wednesday, July 11, 2018, this research project is live!  The first survey has been sent to over 650 Gordon-Conwell alumni, and within the first hour we are up to 20 responses!  If you're one of those first 20 people, thank you!  Thanks for caring enough about preaching and the local church to weigh in on this topic!  

A second request will go out in two weeks, followed by a final request in August before I shut down phase 1 of the research project.  But I'm already excited to see how many people have been collaborating in some form or another in the preaching ministries of their various churches.

Thanks again for the encouraging initial response!