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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 Thirteen: The public speech-tradition (kabary) in homiletics 203


Chapter Thirteen The public speech-tradition (kabary) in homiletics This chapter refers to chapter 8, “Malagasy rhetoric and preaching”, and is mainly limited to a discussion of the usefulness of the Malagasy public speech tradition in homiletics. Occasionally I bring the proverbs into the discussion since they are a substantial part of this tradition. The focus on Malagasy rhetoric is in line with a movement in contemporary rhetorical studies that focuses on the particularities present in a variety of rhetorical communities. Craig A. Loscalzo holds that Westerners have tended to think of their own rhetorical strategies as normative but he maintains that rhetorical theories, “to truly represent cultural realities, must be sensitive to the particu- lar communicative affinities represented in a particular culture’s social norms” (Loscalzo 1995: 413–414). The following is an attempt to be sensi- tive to the particular Malagasy communicative affinities, represented by the public speech tradition, and investigate what preachers may learn from this tradition. The structure in the following differs from the previous chapters in part two. Firstly, I give a brief overview of Malagasy public speech as it is de- scribed in recent literature, and secondly, I discuss the findings in part one in a homiletic perspective, on the background of the literature and my own re- flections. To this subject, I also make use of the empirical material from the pastors. 204 Improving Preaching by Listening to Listeners Literature on Malagasy public speech I do not pretend here to give a description of the...

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