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Improving Preaching by Listening to Listeners

Sunday Service Preaching in the Malagasy Lutheran Church


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 Twelve: The listeners 185


Chapter Twelve The listeners This chapter recalls and discusses some of the findings in part one, chapter 7 “Effects on the listeners”. I do this in relation to the theoretical frameworks of rhetoric, the Malagasy context, and theology. Only selected issues will be discussed, against the background of the research question: How do sermons move the listeners to consider preaching as important for their daily life? The purpose of improving preaching in the Malagasy Lutheran Church also has directed me in the discussion. Pathos in rhetoric According to rhetoric, a speaker has three tasks; to please through ethos, to teach through logos, and to move through pathos. All three means of proofs have to be present in order for the speech to persuade the audience (Andersen 1995: 42). Until now ethos and logos have been discussed. Pathos is the sub- ject of this chapter. Burke, the rhetorician referred to earlier, prefers to use the term “identification” when talking about persuasion because he holds that identification describes how persuasion occurs. He asserts that a person is only able to persuade others if he or she speaks their language, and is com- prehensible to them. There have to be some common interests between speaker and hearer and they must have something in common (cited in Conover 2008: 351). Hogan and Reid call their chapter on pathos “How will they come to care?”, indicating that a prerequisite, before any kind of persua- sion is possible, is to bring an issue before the eyes...

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