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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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Conclusion 219


Conclusion The main problem in this project is largely answered with the aid of method- ology from rhetoric, adapted into homiletics: How do the character of the preacher, the role of the content, and the emotional appeal on the listeners, impact on the listeners in such a way that preaching becomes significant for their lives? I have highlighted what has had a positive impact with regard to the three means of persuasion, but also what has put the listeners off, made them angry, or worked counter-productively to influence their lives. In the presentation and discussion I have treated the three means separately for the sake of clarity, but in real life they always work together. To focus on only one or two of these means will not be sufficient for preaching to have the maximum impact. All three have to work together in a balanced way, they depend on each other, and ought to point the listener in the same direction. The listeners’ evaluation of the character of the preacher, in the act of preaching and in everyday life, is important for his preaching to have an im- pact on the hearers. The preacher’s character constantly has to be oriented and reoriented towards the biblical images and be moulded from the encoun- ter with the risen Lord. Any disguise will be discovered immediately and contributes negatively to the possible impact of the sermon. The listeners have to become convinced that the preacher has their best interests in mind and has...

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