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Improving Preaching by Listening to Listeners

Sunday Service Preaching in the Malagasy Lutheran Church

Series:

Hans Austnaberg

Improving Preaching by Listening to Listeners: Sunday Service Preaching in the Malagasy Lutheran Church explores the reaction of the congregation to Sunday preaching. Preaching has been a significant activity since the founding of the Lutheran Church in Madagascar in 1867. However, hardly any research has been carried out to explore this interesting field, particularly from the listeners’ perspective. This book is an attempt to remedy this situation.
With the aid of methodology from rhetorical studies, adapted into homiletics, this book investigates: How do the character of the preacher, the content of the sermon, and its emotional appeal impact the listeners in such a way that preaching becomes significant in their lives? Listeners consider the preacher himself important, both his spiritual and everyday life. They evaluate his good intentions, whether he believes in his own message, and whether his message is moulded by an encounter with the risen Lord. The Bible provides the sermon’s basic content and foundation, and The Holy Spirit is considered an active agent in the preaching event. The listeners encounter words from God through the sermon. They can experience change in their lives by listening to preaching from caring pastors who create presence for important issues for change to happen.
The Malagasy context and culture form the backcloth throughout the investigation, and this book specifically investigates Malagasy rhetoric, that is, the public speech tradition with regard to its possible role in increasing the impact of preaching on the listeners.

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Chapter Four: Presentation of places of research and sermons 45

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Chapter Four Presentation of places of research and sermons City church Church The church, in one of Madagascar’s largest cities, is one of the largest in the Malagasy Lutheran Church. The members hold different occupations: teach- ers, pupils, state employees, church workers, merchants, peasants, and unem- ployed. Most other denominations also have large churches in the city. Service 15 November 2009 The service started at 9 a.m. There were approximately 1400 people present, perhaps 500–800 children and youths among them. Pastor [...] presided at the liturgy and held the sermon but there were other pastors present assisting at the Holy Communion. The consecration of teachers from a nearby Lutheran college was included in the service. A choir of 40–50 youths sang hymns. The textual readings were Is 32:1–8, Rom 13:1–7, and Mt 22:15–22. The hymns before and after the sermon were numbers 167 and 150 in the Protestant hymnbook (Fihirana 1987). 46 Improving Preaching by Listening to Listeners Preacher A well known pastor, aged about 50, was a guest preacher this Sunday but he lives close to the church and I suppose he attends church here when he is not on duty elsewhere. He was ordained to ministry about 1990, has his basic theological educa- tion from the Lutheran Theological Seminary (STL) in Fianarantsoa and has completed a Masters degree in Theology. Sermon The volume of the loudspeaker was almost too high and at times disturbing. The preacher used the pulpit and he...

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