Thursday, May 11, 2006

Rhetorical Analysis of Sermons

Useful discussion with Revd Dr Michael Ovey in Christians in the Modern World lecture today led to some thoughts:

A rhetorical (structural) analysis of a usual sermon:


Good gag / funny story / set piece illustration




Illustrate (story / comparison)


Leave (move on) REPEAT X3


Or maybe, as I discussed with Liam Beadle, a more Anglican model:

(Something or other – for non-evangelicals only)
Biblical text (optional for non-evangelicals)
Something else
Relation of Bible and something else in some way or something
Repeat with other texts a number of times
(The eucharist – for Anglo-Catholics only)

Suitable something or others are poems, quotations from Kafka or anyone clever (these could be from a book of quotations or even a book of quotations to be used in sermons and need not be in context or understood), clever allusions, Latin tags, allusions to the second world war or holocaust, spurious statistics from some dodgey survey, articles from The Spectator or Guadian, views from the study window, what my wife said, funny incidents involving embarrassing my children, anything about me (count the personal pronouns in any sermon), anything else.

Other models:

Meditation – sloppy sermon with gaps or questions

One main point – from the text

Lots of points – maybe the number suggested by the text

Something interesting from the text

Various puritan models – uses of doctrines for different classes of hearers

Themes / Topics


Whole sermon on one word

Sermon on whole Bible

Mock interviews

Imagine you were... Sermons in the voice of or perpective of

Fill in the handout preaching

Tell them what you are going to tell them
Tell them
Tell them what you told them

Stand up
Speak up
Shut up

Preach as Father, Judge, King from your throne

Sermons addressed to God as prayers - he has heard enough prayers that are sermons so he's used to putting up with it

Keep it fresh!

Any other ideas?


Ros said...

On camp we go for: State, Explain, Restate, Illustrate, Apply, Leave. Which has the advantage of forming the acronym SERIAL.

Anonymous said...

Just teach the bally Bible.