Great Preaching for the Great Plains

“Strengthening Your Core: Biblical and Theological Foundations for Faithful Preaching”

Dr. Alyce McKenzie, LeVan Professor of Preaching and Worship, Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor, Perkins School of Theology, and Dr. O. Wesley Allen, Lois Craddock Professor of Homiletics, Perkins School of Theology,  will be the faculty for the third year of the Great Preaching for the Great Plains Studio which is being held in conjunction with The Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence at SMU.

A lot of preaching these days focuses on human needs and problems. That is important, but we don’t want to lose our biblical and theological bearings on our weekly sermonic journeys. These workshops will explore approaches to preaching sermons that connect the profound insights of scripture and theology to both the pain and the promise of the human condition.

The studio consists of five sessions. There will be three two-day teaching retreats with Dr. McKenzie and Dr. Allen at Topeka First UMC (600 SW Topeka Blvd.) in Topeka, Kansas. These retreats begin at 1 p.m. on Monday and end at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

The remaining two sessions will be gatherings of a small group of participants and one facilitator. These groupings will be geographically determined.  

Christ–centered excellence in preaching and worship is one of the missional priorities of the Great Plains Conference. The Rev. Nancy Lambert, director of Clergy Excellence/assistant to the bishop, says that “Preaching is one of the most visible skills of a clergyperson. Each of us can improve our preaching no matter how many sermons we have already delivered.” The studio will challenge clergy to refresh their preaching style and content, leading to more effective preaching.


  • October 24-25, 2016 Leaders: Dr. McKenzie and Dr. Allen
    “Where is the Bible in my Sermon?”
    Required reading:
    • Article, “Preaching Wisdom from the Flipside” by Alyce McKenzie
    • "Reading the Synoptic Gospels: Basic Methods for Interpreting Matthew, Mark and Luke," by Dr. O. Wesley Allen 
  • January 30-31, 2017 Leader: Dr. McKenzie
    “Who is God in my Sermon?”
    Required reading:
    • "What Not To Say: Avoiding the Common Mistakes that Can Sink Your Sermon," John C. Holbert and Alyce M. McKenzie (Chapter 1 “What Not to Say About God”)
    • Second reading – to be decided 
  • March 27-28, 2017 Leader: Dr. Allen
    "What is the Human Condition in the Sermon?"
    Required reading:
    • "Preaching and the Human Condition" (Nashville; Abingdon, 2016), by O. Wesley Allen

It is expected that each participant will complete all reading assignments and incorporate insights into sermons that are recorded and made available to the professors and facilitators.

Contact the Rev. Nancy Lambert, director of clergy excellence, for more information at

Dr. Alyce McKenzie

Rev. Dr. O. Wesley Allen, Jr.


Read more about Dr. McKenzie
and Dr. Allen.