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.

Despite feeling the weight of this responsibility, pastors often veer away from teaching on the doctrine of creation, both because the topic is currently divisive and because it is complicated. Scholars themselves struggle to stitch together these complicated lines of research and understanding. How, then, are pastors to guide their congregations!

The STOTT AWARD FOR PASTORAL ENGAGEMENT aims to bridge the gap both between the supposed antagonism of science and theology and between the church and the academy by providing opportunities for pastors, scientists in congregations, and theologians to partner together in the faithful ministry of the Word. Overall, the Stott Award aims to promote a biblically faithful, scientifically humble, and congregationally edifying account of the important and yet often neglected doctrine of creation.

Quick Facts

  1. Applications due August 1
  2. 6 pastors & congregations awarded annually
  3. Year-long church support
  4. $5,000 pastoral stipend
  5. $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 2017)

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:

Colin Gunton, Triune Creator: A Historical and Systematic Study (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998)
Del Ratzsch, Science and Its Limits (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2000

Mid-Term Consultation (January 2018)

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 2018)

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

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

Classical Christian creeds begin with a confession about the doctrine of creation, declaring that God is “Creator of heaven and earth.” Yet, within many evangelical and Protestant contexts, the doctrine has received scant theological and pastoral attention, having been subsumed under the more important (and supposedly separable) matters of redemption and sanctification. The reemergence of attention to creation in recent decades has done little to recover the doctrine. Evangelical teaching and pastoral guidance on the doctrine of creation have often so narrowly focused on questions of cosmological and biological origins that key elements of the doctrine have remained underdeveloped. Accordingly, recovering a comprehensive doctrine of creation that attends to biblical topics like ex nihilo, goodness, and divine action (among others) offers fertile ground for homiletic explication and Christian education.

Sample Sermon Series

Ancient and Modern Hygiene: What Leviticus Teaches Us about the Order of the World

God’s Taming of Chaos: From Darwin to Leviathan and Back Again

Isaiah’s Cosmic Vision: How a Creator God Changes our Understanding of Everything Else

Will my Dog be in Heaven? What the Bible Teaches about Animals and our Relation to Them

Christ and Creation: From Savior of My Soul to Cosmic Lord (expanding our religious vision)

*For detailed sermons series proposal of previous years, see the samples under Application.

Sample of Theological Questions

  • Who is God the Creator, according to the Bible? How does the Bible’s understanding of God impact the way that it understands the created world?
  • What does Scripture say about the nature and order of the world? How was it similar to and different from other ancient Near Eastern creation accounts?
  • How do traditional doctrine like ex nihilo and the goodness of creation impact our contemporary understanding of the world?
  • The biblical doctrine of creation is often developed nearly exclusively from Genesis 1–3. What other books of the bible inform our understanding of creation?
  • We often think of the doctrine of creation as a matter of protology (first things; origins). But the doctrine of creation is also informed by providence (God’s continuing involvement; e.g., miracles) and eschatology (last things; e.g., recreation). How might engagement with these biblical topics provide a fuller account of the doctrine of creation?
  • What does Scripture teach about the natural order (e.g., animals, seasons, natural events, change and development)? How does it present God’s relation to the natural order?
  • How does Scripture present creation in ways similar to and different from our more material and naturalistic assumptions? Said differently, in what ways is creation more than a natural theology (or a theology of nature)?
  • What does the doctrine of creation say about the nature of time and space?

Quick Facts

  1. Applications due August 1
  2. 6 pastors & congregations awarded annually
  3. Year-long church support
  4. $5,000 pastoral stipend
  5. $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. Applications due August 1
  2. 6 pastors & congregations awarded annually
  3. Year-long church support
  4. $5,000 pastoral stipend
  5. $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. Applications due August 1
  2. 6 pastors & congregations awarded annually
  3. Year-long church support
  4. $5,000 pastoral stipend
  5. $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 (note that two are required; please acknowledge any additional planned reading); 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.

*Stott Award funds may not be used for building improvements of any kind, including things like purchasing technology.

     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 applying 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; letters not required)

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

Important Dates

August 1, 2017
Application Due

September 1, 2017
Award Recipients Announced

Fall 2017
Congregational Focus Group

January, 2018
Mid-Term Consultation

Spring 2018
Congregational Engagement

May 1, 2018
Sermon Series and Final Reports due
TRT_black-01This project is made possible through the support of a grant from Templeton Religion Trust.

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