Eco-Justice Ministries
   Eco-Justice: "the well-being of all humankind on a thriving Earth"

Questions for Preparers and Hearers
of Eco-Justice Sermons

This list of questions was prepared by the planners of an Eco-Justice Preaching Institute in consultation with homiletics professor James A. Forbes.

The list is found in For Creation's Sake: Preaching, Ecology, & Justice, Dieter Hessel, editor, The Geneva Press, 1985, pp. 126-128.

  1. What is the central theme of the sermon?
    1. What theological issue is at the heart of the sermon?
    2. What theological resources besides Scripture does the preacher utilize?

  2. How does the sermon take Scripture seriously as a source of God's word to today's congregation?
    1. How does the sermon trace the connection between the biblical "then" and the situation "now"?
      • The biblical passage presents an analogous social issue or dilemma.
      • The biblical passage emphasizes a Christian social value or virtue which has present application.
      • The biblical passage is seen in terms of its strangeness to, or distance from, us in our culture.
    2. How does the sermon overcome familiar obstacles to a fusion of horizons? (see Gottwald)
      Note from Eco-Justice Ministries: The "see Gottwald" comment is only description given in the book. Some explanation is found in an on-line article which notes, "We must at one and the same time interpret both the social situations and the literary idioms of the biblical texts and the social situations and literary idioms of ourselves as interpreters/ actors. This is the multidimensioned interpretative task now widely called . . . the hermeneutical 'fusion of horizons.'" This reference is about half-way through the article Preaching as the Interface of Two Social Worlds: The Congregation as Corporate Agent in the Act of Preaching

  3. How does the sermon address current issues of human justice?
    1. What examples of injustice are cited? What information is communicated?
    2. Does the preacher cite a range of experts including victims of current policy?
    3. Is the social analysis and theological theme communicated in a form other than prose in the sermon or the liturgy?

  4. How long does the sermon indicate awareness of the ecological dimensions of the current human situation?
    1. Repeat questions under #3.
    2. How does it suggest that concern for the nonhuman creation should be incorporated in Christian decision-making?

  5. How does the sermon take account of the situation of the hearers, even as it seeks to listen to oppressed people, creatures, planet?
    1. How sensitive is the preacher to the dilemma of the hearers? Of others who are oppressed?
    2. How does the preacher identify with the needs and aspirations of the hearers? Of other people and beings who are oppressed.
    3. How does the preacher link the hearers' responsibility to divine judgment and grace? (Look for the yes and no in the sermon.)

  6. What course of action is suggested in response to God's activity within the eco-justice crisis?
    1. What change does the sermon expect of hearers?
    2. What behavior or influence does it project on their part?
    3. Is attention given both to the response of individuals and that of the congregation?
    4. What ways of acting and educating are recommended, and how do these connect with the congregation's mission and ministry?

  7. What about this sermon helps (or hinders) me in receiving its message?

Sermons that are informed by these questions and by the lively liturgy and communal Bible study of a ministering congregation are more likely to echo creation's groans, speak a liberating word to the church, and invite action for abundant community in a just, sustainable, enjoyable world.

Eco-Justice Ministries   *   400 S Williams St, Denver, CO   80209   *   Home Page:
Eco-Justice Ministries ended all programming on July 31, 2020. This site is an archive of writings and resources.
To contact a representative of the agency by e-mail, please use the contact form