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A Pre-Release Excerpt from Dr. Kim's Book on the Need for Preaching with Cultural Intelligence

September 15, 2017


Preaching with Cultural Intelligence:
Understanding the People Who Hear Our Sermons 
Preaching with Cultural Intelligence: Understanding the People Who Hear Our Sermons 

Dr. Matthew D. Kim, Associate Professor of Preaching and Ministry 

 Release:  October 17, 2017



 An excerpt from Preaching with Cultural Intelligence:
Understanding the People Who Hear Our Sermons (Baker Academic, 2017)


As an ethnic Korean, born and raised in the United States, the impetus for this book derives from my personal experiences living as an “elephant” in America. Like the proverbial elephant in the room, I and Others often stand out, and not necessarily for positive reasons. In most contexts, the dominant culture places me in the Other category. In other words, I have never felt completely comfortable in white America, nor am I at ease among Korean nationals and first-generation Korean immigrants. Like sitting awkwardly and uncomfortably between two chairs made of timber, I have always sat in the in-between space, what Gerald Arbuckle calls the state of liminality. In most cases, being in a sanctuary where I am the Other has meant that my background and experiences have been grossly misunderstood or completely ignored.

Being in the position of the elephant is cumbersome and painful. We do not know what it is like until we have actually experienced it. In preaching to diverse listeners, then, we want to be mindful of the Other, especially because we take the second greatest commandment seriously. To love our neighbors means that we will put ourselves in the position of the Other. Like Jesus’s example of the good Samaritan, we care for our church members just as we care for our own bodies and souls. We can demonstrate this care even in our preaching.

As preachers, we want to pause and reflect on life and Scripture from the Others’ viewpoint. For example, have you ever asked yourself these questions about your listeners during sermon preparation? (1) How would listeners from Life Situation X or from Cultural Background Y read and interpret this Scripture passage? (2) What excites them, and what do they fear? (3) Which illustrations are most relevant and helpful for these listeners? (4) What does life application look like in their specific context? (5) How can we embrace and even celebrate those who are different from us in our preaching ministry and in “doing life” together? We want Others to feel noticed, valued, embraced and celebrated in church life and in our preaching. We want to love elephants in our congregations deeply, just as Christ loved his church.

We preach the Bible to real people—both to ourselves and to our hearers. Preaching effectively to the Other involves what David A. Livermore and others call “cultural intelligence,” and that is what we seek to obtain. Moreover, preaching with cultural intelligence requires biblical exegesis and cultural exegesis. Sermons deficient in either form of exegesis will be found duly wanting in the ears and hearts of our listeners. Both are indispensable to our calling as preachers.

However, I trust that as we embark on this cultural intelligence journey together, even one more listener will exclaim on Sunday morning, “Thanks be to God for this preacher who understands God’s Word and understands me.” So, thank you for picking up this book and for taking the next step in becoming a culturally intelligent Christian and a culturally sensitive preacher. Our efforts are not in vain, because God is worth it and so are our listeners.

To place an order, click here.


     "Matthew Kim writes with the sensitivity of a pastor, the experience of a multicultural minority person, and the knowledge of an experienced homiletics professor--a wonderful combination for helping us think through what is needed to bring knowledge of hermeneutics, humans, and homiletics to bear on the task of preaching in a world of rapidly integrating cultures."

  - Bryan Chapell, senior pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church; author of Christ-Centered Preaching



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Gordon-Conwell Prays for Jacksonville Campus as Well as Hurricane and Flood Victims Around the World

September 12, 2017


A Message from President Hollinger

Whenever there are natural disasters around the world we are reminded again that our Gordon-Conwell community is a global one. In many of the recent floods, landslides, earthquakes and hurricanes our Gordon-Conwell alumni were present and involved with their local churches and Christian organizations in comforting and assisting those in need.
A Message from President Hollinger
With many churches still involved in recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey in Texas, we have all watched with anxiety and deep concern the advance of Hurricane Irma on parts of the Caribbean and the State of Florida this past week. We have many alumni pastors throughout this region.  A number offered their church facilities as shelters for, as one alumni pastor put it, the groups of “weather pilgrims.” 

Though numbers of alumni churches in Florida were forced to cancel services this past Sunday, several offered sermons and words of comfort to their flock on-line. One example was the message of hope offered by Gordon-Conwell alumnus and trustee David Swanson, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, FL.  His FaceBook Live message was viewed by over 9,000 during the storm.  

In his message, David reminded his listeners that, “The wind and the waves still know His voice.  God is seated on His throne.  He is sovereign over all, and if He allows the storm in our lives let us respond in faithfulness. Then let us move out from these days as a demonstration and a witness to the power of the Body of Christ. We are not those who run away in times of need, but we run towards it. We serve others. We meet those needs. And as we do that, we give witness to the hope and the promise of the Gospel.”

Please continue to pray with us for our alumni spread throughout this region who are seeking to be that “witness of hope” in word and deed in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. What follows are some updates from alumni in the region. We praise God, as well, that despite some serious flooding in Jacksonville, our staff at the Jacksonville Campus are all safe and have only sustained minor damage to their homes. The Jacksonville Campus will reopen again on Wednesday.

Below you will find a growing list of prayer requests from students, alumni and members of the Gordon-Conwell community impacted by flooding and hurricanes around the globe. Please stand with us by covering them with prayer.
 Dennis P. Hollinger, Ph.D.
Dennis P. Hollinger, Ph.D.
President &
Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics 


Ways to Pray: From the Gordon-Conwell Student and Alumni Community

     Check back here for a growing list of prayer requests from Gordon-Conwell students, alumni and friends.

     The first week after Irma was hard for many with no power, as well as limited fuel and water challenges. The city is now quickly coming back to life, but it will be some time before things are normal. We had a sweet worship service yesterday and then went out into the community to serve.
–Jim N., Naples, FL (D. Min. ’97)

     Despite the inconvenience and discomfort my wife and I were very fortunate. We had a safe refuge and our home had very minimal damage. Thanks be to God. Many are homeless and destitute, however. Our hearts go out to them as will our hands as our church, First Presbyterian of Naples, positions itself to be the hands and feet of Christ through all of this.
–Dan W., Naples, FL (M.Div. '62)

     Thanks so much for your prayers. Much needed and much appreciated. It is always nice to know people are praying for you.
–Bill H., Auburndale, FL (MRE, M.Div. ’79)

     We just got power, internet and phones back on at our church. Thanks for your prayers and expressions of support. We are okay. My own home had no damage; our church building had some roof damage that is repairable. We are planning on worship services this Sunday. God is good and spared us what could have been much worse!

     Thanks for your prayers. My home has no damages. Tree branches down all over my lot. Pray for my neighbors with property damages.
–Benjamin S., Dunedin, FL (M.Div. ’85)

     We are fine. We had a little leakage around a few windows but nothing substantial. We are thanking God and praying for those who have lost so much.
Daniel M., Lakeland, FL (MATS ’86)

     We faired pretty well through the storm, unlike so many others here in NE Florida, in SW Florida, and especially the Keys. We do appreciate your reaching out and all prayers of the GCTS community, especially now as Florida begins the long recovery process.
- Carlos O., Middleburg, FL (M.Div. ’85)

     I have two requests: That my electricity would be restored soon and that God would send helpers to assist with cleaning up the broken branches and tree limbs. I am a disabled person and recovering from my 2 spinal fusion and am limited on what I can do. We relocated for a while but must return home and are still without power. So comes this request for prayer. Thank you. 

    Update: We returned home yesterday! No damage to my home and the JEA Linemen came about an hour later! We have electricity! So happy right now! Thank you for your email and prayers!
- Melody J (student)
     Even though the eye of Irma went right over us, we were spared any damage, and our electricity remained on, unlike many of our neighbors. A huge tree fell in our neighbors' yard and almost our yard…but he was not harmed and his town house is in good shape. Over the years, I have reached out to get to know my neighbors and to share the Gospel with them, and the past few weeks just furthered our connection with many of them.
–Kristin T., Orlando, FL (M.Div. ’06)
     We were to be in South Hamilton right now!  We were to leave this past Thursday but the airlines canceled our flight due to the fact that there are no planes in Florida right now…Sarah is/was to go on a mission trip to Cuba in October. That's also very questionable right now. The area they were to go has been devastated by the storm.
–Dan (M.Div. ’90) and
Sarah B. (MA ’93), Lutz, FL

     I was in Texas and almost made it to Houston to support Harvey rescue efforts when I returned home to the Jacksonville, FL area to await Irma.  The destruction caused by the storms will pass, but [what] won't is another graduating class from GCTS without the passion of Luther and Loyola in advancing Christ's kingdom.  Focus on building leaders up to that task.  That's my prayer request!
–Brent E., Yulee, FL (MTS ’77)
     By the time Hurricane Irma made it our way, the winds were significantly less than they were in the Caribbean. We had plenty of debris in our yard but no structural damage to our house. All in all we were without electricity for about 88 hours, but spent the majority of that time with dear friends in the area who took in all six of us for the past three days. God is good and still uses his church in wonderful ways!
–Mitchell C., Winter Park, FL
(M.Div. ’12, ThM ’13)
     We survived the hurricane with no loss of power and only minimal water damage, but many in the surrounding areas close to us lost power and had serious trees falling and flooding. Please continue to pray for these hard hit neighbors.
–Peter R., Jacksonville, FL (MRE ’84)
     Thank you for reaching out. We have damage, but nothing too major in Ponte Vedra Beach. Thankful for a caring seminary community.
–Patti A., Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (M.Div. ’16)


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Dr. Sean McDonough Speaks About How Christians Can Respond to the Disruption of Natural Order

September 12, 2017

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…”  -- William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming
Dr. Sean McDonough Speaks About How Christians Can Respond to the Disruption of Natural Order
    The Irish poet was speaking of the tumult of his nation’s political fortunes, but the words seem appropriate for the disruption of the natural order we have seen in recent weeks: floods and fire have understandably garnered the headlines of late; famine stalks the world as often as ever, to less fanfare.

    What do Christians say in response? One might wonder whether they ought to say anything at all. In seeking to “explain” why someone watched all their possessions float away, or watched their loved ones disappear, we may take up the role of Job’s friends: bringing cold comfort with a rationale for a suffering that God himself declares to be inexplicable. Joining sufferers in lament, and providing them with practical assistance, is surely a more appropriate response than armchair theologizing at a safe and dry distance.

    Yet if the church never says anything at all about “natural disasters,” there is the risk that Yeats’ words will prove a counsel of utter despair: the universe really is an uncaring swirl of chaotic forces, and the occasional bursts of beauty and order are illusions. Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold.

    We must affirm, then, that God has indeed created all things, and that he governs all things in the mystery of his providence. His goodness and power are evident in all that has been made. Our grief at the disruption of the good world is evidence that it has not emerged haphazardly, but is the gift of God. We rightly feel something has gone wrong.

    Nor can we avoid the truth that it has gone wrong on God’s watch. Both the Old Testament and the New are unflinching in their recognition that God really does control all things, including the catastrophes that so often overwhelm our attempts at order. At times, such ills can be traced to the disobedience of human beings – Israel regularly suffers God’s wrath for its violation of the covenant. At other times, the catastrophe from our standpoint just happens: Satan’s malice brings about the sufferings of Job, but God clearly permits it, and so the fundamental mystery of “why this, just now?” remains.

    The Christian hope lies not in the ability to neatly adjudicate the immediate reason for any given disaster. Rather, it lies in the confession that God’s ultimate will for the creation is its flourishing. If he takes things apart and leads the world on the strange path of de-creation, it is only because he will one day bring it to the fullness of new creation, a world beyond any threat of evil. And so we weep with those who weep, and mourn with those who mourn, and we work to alleviate what suffering we can. But we do all this in hope that the God who has created all things will bring them to their good appointed end. There is a Second Coming, and there is a word yet to be spoken: “Behold, I make all things new!” (Rev. 21:5).

Dr. Sean McDonough
Professor of New Testament, Gordon-Conwell

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