The church has always sustained and propagated the intellectual core of its faith through responsible church ministry and especially through the study and proclamation of the Word of God.

Every week, millions of Christians learn and are shaped through sermons, small groups, Sunday school classes, and other forms of liturgy and education. Articulate and well-informed preaching in particular has the potential to give direction and guidance to a whole congregation. Misguided preaching, conversely, can lead a congregation astray.

Meanwhile, pastors and churches understandably veer away from the divisive issues surrounding science and theology, and especially creation and evolution. Consequently, our children are ill-equipped, our scientists are silenced in their religious communities, our pastors are conflicted about the potential implications of publically addressing the issues, and congregations generally lack clear and informed pastoral guidance. On the whole, both church and society suffer as a result.

The Stott Award aims to bridge the gap between the supposed antagonism of science and theology and the lack of congruence between the church and the academy through partnership with select congregations and pastors. Through the provision of financial resources and year-long institutional support, the John Stott Award for Pastoral Engagement, sponsored by the Templeton Religion Trust, is designed to promote theologically sound and scientifically open-minded pastoral and ecclesial engagement on the doctrine of creation.

Quick Facts

  1. 6 pastors & congregations awarded annually
  2. Year-long church support
  3. $5,000 pastoral stipend
  4. $10,000 congregational grant

Stott Program

On paper, the Stott Award may seem a bit complicated. Despite its apparent complexity, it is also quite simple:

We want to support your church’s effort to think carefully, safely, and constructively about Genesis (and the doctrine of creation more generally) in an age of science. We want pastors and theologians to do the same and to do it together, and we want to walk with your pastor and your congregation as you promote a scientifically informed doctrine of creation.

So, here’s how it works:

Congregational Focus Group (Fall 2016)

If your church is awarded a Stott Award, the program begins in your own congregation with a self-selected focus group. This group will consist of 6-12 members of the congregation, be pastorally led, ideally include several members who are practical (e.g., MD, engineer) or theoretical (e.g., professors) scientists, and represent a spectrum of views (e.g., from young earth to theistic evolution). The goal of the focus group is twofold: (1) to create a context for growth in knowledge and a safe environment for constructive disagreement; and, (2) to provide pastors an opportunity for discerning the theological and pastoral complexity of the current tensions at the intersection of science and theology.

During the first year, the focus groups are required to study at least the following books:

Henri Blocher, In the Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis
J. Daryl Charles, ed., Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation

Mid-Term Consultation (January 2017)

Following the fall congregational discussions, the six pastors will gather on Trinity’s campus, along with the Stott Award committee and select other biblical scholars and theologians (including Jack Collins and John Hilber) for a mid-term consultation. This consultation is designed to build upon the discussions begun at a congregational level in the fall and to prepare for wider congregational activities in the spring. This two-day event will include a host of activities, including round-table discussions, short lectures, book discussions, preaching workshops and more.

Congregational Engagement (Spring 2017)

Following the Fall focus group and the January, mid-term consultation, each pastor and congregation will be responsible for preaching a sermon series in his or her church in conjunction with some church-wide educational format (e.g. Sunday school class, small group study, etc.). Everything builds to this moment, as pastors lead their congregations in the ministry of the Word, beginning to equip them for biblically sound and scientifically humble understanding of creation.

Quick Facts

  1. 6 pastors & congregations awarded annually
  2. Year-long church support
  3. $5,000 pastoral stipend
  4. $10,000 congregational grant

Reading Genesis in an Age of Science (2016-2017)

“In the beginning,” Genesis declares, “God created the heavens and the earth.” In contrast with other origin accounts, Genesis presents a sovereign God whose speech creates a good, beautiful, and ordered world. But how does Genesis, this “primitive” text, relate to the claims of modern science? Is Genesis to be read as divinely revealed science eons ahead of its time? Is it, alternatively, limited to the religious realm, disinterested in the claims of physical reality and primarily concerned with godliness? Or, do Genesis and modern scientific evidence share overlapping claims to authority, and if so, how are we to understand the apparent conflicts?

All sorts of modern, evangelical concerns exude within these tightly compact questions: belief in God, the authority of Scripture, suspicion of science and the secular world. More basic to Christian life and thought, we simply want to hear God’s word rightly and respond to him faithfully. Beginning with the beginning, the first year of the Creation Project looks carefully at Genesis and its claims about the origin, order, and purpose of creation.

Sample Sermon Series

Neither Anarchy nor Atoms: God and the Order of Creation

God, Creation, and Chaos: What the Flood Ultimately Teaches Us
about the History of the World  |  SAMPLE

Creation, Dominion, and the Image of God  |  SAMPLE

Sample of Theological Questions

  • Who is God the Creator, according to the Bible? And how does that image of God help us understand questions like how we relate to creation? How God relates to creation? How we relate to God through creation?
  • What does Genesis say about the nature and order of the world? How was it similar to and different from its own age? How is it similar to and different from our age? And what about that view of the world continues to be authoritative and useful for teaching and instruction in godliness?
  • How does the Genesis creation narrative fit into a broader canonical reading of the Bible as Christian Scripture?
  • What do we learn from other relevant texts in the Old Testament (e.g., the “creation” psalms), the teachings of Jesus, or the theology of the Apostle Paul?
  • How does genre sensitivity inform our reading of Genesis? And even with genre sensitivity, what bearing does that have on how we understand Genesis in light of modern scientific discovery?
  • What kinds of questions and concerns is Genesis responding to? And how are those concerns similar to and different from our own? To the extent that they are different, how do those concerns bear upon our day? Do they impact the questions raised by modern science?

Past and Present Years

2017-2018: Affirming the Doctrine of Creation in an Age of Science

2018-2019: Reclaiming Theological Anthropology in an Age of Science

Quick Facts

  1. 6 pastors & congregations awarded annually
  2. Year-long church support
  3. $5,000 pastoral stipend
  4. $10,000 congregational grant

Eligibility Requirements

All applicants must meet the following criteria in order to qualify for the Stott Award —

  • Full-time minister in a church context
  • Regular preaching opportunity and commitment from your church to complete the project in its entirety
  • Pastors may apply for multiple years, but preference will be given to new churches.
  • While a team of pastors and lay leaders may preach in the sermon series, no more than two pastors may apply for the grant, and at least 75% of the focus group must consist in congregational members not involved in full-time ministry.


Quick Facts

  1. 6 pastors & congregations awarded annually
  2. Year-long church support
  3. $5,000 pastoral stipend
  4. $10,000 congregational grant

Criteria for Success

Applications will be assessed according the following criteria. Demonstrates—

  • A high view of Scripture, understood as divine revelation
  • Sound exegetical and theological decision-making, including issues like genre
  • Pastoral discernment in assessing and responding to congregational and cultural pressures
  • A high view of the doctrine of creation, including but not limited to issues related to modern science*
  • A posture of intellectual openness and humility to scientific discovery
  • Congruence with the theme topic of the year

* Frequently, “doctrine of creation” is understood to refer to a rather narrow set of issues: age of the earth, number of days of creation, literal vs. metaphorical, etc. Here, the term is used more broadly and with increased attention to the sets of issues, ideas, and questions that Scripture itself invokes in relation to the doctrine (e.g., goodness, order, etc.).

Quick Facts

  1. 6 pastors & congregations awarded annually
  2. Year-long church support
  3. $5,000 pastoral stipend
  4. $10,000 congregational grant



1. Cover Letter / Reason for Interest (750 — 1,000 words)

Include a brief description of things like your person interest in the topic, presumed audience/pastoral context, primary questions to be pursued, hoped for areas of learning, personal attitude toward and experience with dialogue and disagreement (i.e., intellectual humility), and any prior engagement that you or your congregation have had with these or similar topics.

2. Plan of Focus Group (no more than 1,000 words)

Statement on the makeup and plan of your focus group, including (i) a brief description of each group member (e.g. areas of expertise, responsibilities and roles in the church, relative positions on considered subject and previous engagement with it, etc.); (ii) intended books to discuss (besides those pre-assigned); and (iii) intended format of the group (e.g. weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings; weekend retreats, etc.)

3. Proposed Sermon Series (no more than 750 words)

Proposal should include (i) series title, texts, and sermon titles, (ii) a brief rationale, and (iii) a preliminary bibliography/work cited. The series should contain around 3 – 5 sermons. Please also note: Based on the theme of the first year, at least one sermon in the series must be a Genesis passage and develop from that passage.

4. Proposed budget of church funds

Of the $10,000 congregational grant, we expect that a substantial portion of this cash will be directed toward the execution of congregational initiatives that support the year-long engagement with the topic. Some ways that the funds can be used include hosting guest speakers, purchasing books, providing honoraria to the focus group members, to name only a few.

     5. Current curriculum vitae or resume

6. Statement of Commitment

A pastor may not apply for this award without the support and permission of the church leadership. In apply for the award, therefore, it is assumed that the pastor’s church has been notified of this award and is supportive of their involvement in it.

     7. List of recommendations (one congregational and one professional)


Sermon Series, sample #1

Sermon Series, sample #2

Budget, sample #1

Budget, sample #2

Focus group, sample #1

Focus group, sample #2

Contact Us

If you have any questions or feedback about the Stott Award for Pastoral Engagement, or would simply like to talk with someone in person, please do not hesitate to contact us.


[email protected]



Quick Facts

  1. 6 pastors & congregations awarded annually
  2. Year-long congregational support
  3. $5,000 pastoral stipend
  4. $10,000 congregational grant

Important Dates

August 1, 2016
Application Due

September 1, 2016
Award Recipients Announced

Fall 2016
Congregational Focus Group

January 19-21, 2017
Mid-Term Consultation

Spring 2017
Congregational Engagement

May 1, 2017
Sermon Series and Final Reports
TRT_black-01This project is made possible through the support of a grant from Templeton Religion Trust.

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