Listening to Listeners: Homiletical Case Studies Channels of Listening series
Many preachers long to understand the dynamics of thought, feeling, and behavior at work in congregations. They use many techniques to evaluate the needs of their congregation and to sharpen their sermons, but preachers seldom give members of their congregation the opportunities to identify qualities of preaching that motivate them to engage sermons, and qualities of sermons that prompt disengagement. This book draws on one of the first large scale attempts in North America to do just that. Drawing on extensive interviews and analysis based on traditional rhetorical categories derived from Aristotle—the listener’s perception of the character, personality and trustworthiness of the preacher (ethos), the appeals to reason in the content of the sermon (logos), and the role of feeling in the event of preaching (pathos)—the authors present case illustrations to help preachers listen pastorally to their own parishioners, to understand how their listeners’ participation in the sermon is affected by the ethos, logos, and pathos, and how the pastor can use this understanding to preach in ways that engage listeners. Pastors are encouraged to compare and contrast their own perceptions of preaching with those expressed by their parishioners and to reflect more broadly and deeply about preaching in the preacher’s own congregational setting.
*From the Channels of Listening series.