Sermon Series Competition – Theology of Joy and the Good Life

Competition Overview

Submission deadline:  June 15, 2017

Winners announced:  September 15, 2017

Awards:  1 First Prize: $2,000; 3 runners up: $500 each

Sermon Series Topics

The Yale Center for Faith & Culture is hosting a sermon competition on the topic of the Theology of Joy and the Good Life. This competition seeks submissions of up to 4,000 words that respond to questions concerning flourishing (“the good life”) and joy.

We hypothesize that the good life has three basic dimensions: agential (what you do), circumstantial (how the world is for you and your community), and affective (how you feel). Given this formal account, our hypothesis is that, on the Christian description, joy is the crown of the good life, integrating all three basic dimensions. Joy is a positive affective response to an objective external good construed rightly and about which one is rightly concerned. Therefore, joy cannot be described without reference to the good life. Likewise, the good life cannot be described without reference to joy. Each is integral to the other.

For the purpose of this sermon competition, we ask that participants submit sermons that engage with one or more of the following questions:

  1. What is joy?
  2. What is the relationship between joy and the good life? How does attention to joy shape one’s vision of the good life/flourishing? How does attention to the integrated good life/flourishing shape one’s account of joy?
  3. How can recovery of joy as a central theological category and human experience return the quest for the good life/flourishing to a central position in Christian discipleship?
  4. What features or aspects of the good life need renewed articulation in contemporary cultural contexts, and why is joy (not) among them?


The competition is open to pastors and seminarians.

Winning authors consent to allow their names and excerpts of their work to be featured on the project website.

Your series can be preached with other pastors across the US starting April 23, 2017, the first Sunday after Easter. Check out the movement here, 50 States of Joy: 

Prizes and Benefits

First Prize: $2,000

Runners up: $500

Awardees will also be invited to the project pivot conference in the summer of 2018 and recognized there.

Selection Process

Submissions will be reviewed by members of the Pastoral Advisory Committee and YCFC scholars. 

Sermon series will be evaluated based on the following:

1. Content: Did the series integrate substantial theological content? Did the embodied presentation (if video/audio submission) align with the content and help to teach congregants what was intended? Were the questions above related to joy and flourishing integrated into the message(s)?
2. Persuasiveness: Is the series persuasive? 
3. Inspirational: Does the series inspire? 
4. Equipping: Does the series equip the people of God to respond to the message(s)?
5. Calling: Were the people of God called to action?
6. Action: Does the series provide concrete ways to respond to the messages(s)?

Submission Instructions

All sermons must be submitted in English and all payments will be made in US dollars. The sermon series needs to have been preached already upon submission.

Applicants should submit the following by June 15, 2017:

  • The best sermon from the sermon series of 4-6 sermons via manuscript and if available, include the audio/video of you preaching this sermon. 

  • A detailed outline of the other 3-5 sermons in the series and a paragraph about the difference the sermon series made in your congregation and community.

  • Promotional materials used to communicate about the series to your congregation and community (if available).
  • A separate cover sheet with the following:
    • name(s) of sermon author(s)
    • title of the sermon series
    • email address
    • church, denomination, or institutional affiliation
    • demographics of the congregation where the sermon series was preached: rural/urban/suburban context, number of congregants, ethnicities and ages of congregants. This will help us to judge the content and style of the sermon series. We are interested in preachers that attend to their context. 

Sermons and accompanying cover sheet should be submitted by email attachment as a single PDF (in the order listed above) to

The following words should appear in the subject line:

“Joy and the Good Life Sermon Competition”

The only acceptable file format is PDF. An acknowledgment email will be sent within seven days of receiving your full proposal. All questions about the application process should be sent to