250 homiletical helps–Homiletic’s Class – Not Much Help!

WP Light Bulb  250 Homiletical Helps & Ideas

Before I attended and graduated from Grace Theological Seminary, I pursued a Ph.D. in Rhetoric & Public Address at Ohio University.  It was that educational experience which gave me some of the most basic concepts relating to the field of public address.

After earning my Ph.D. at Ohio University, I began my seminary education and took my first course in pulpit speech –  “Homiletics 101”.  Along with many others who have taken such a class, you realized that it was much like the college course we had already taken in undergraduate school.  There they called it,  “Fundamental of Speech -101.”

I believe that many, if not most of us, would say that our class in homiletics did NOT help develop our speaking abilities that much.  Although it did give us about three or four speaking experiences both years, we probably had more experience in a local church setting throughout our years.

The student critiques, which followed our presentation were not much better than the general comments of the homiletic’s professor — usually related to our stage presence – eye contact, posture, gestures, dependence on our notes, or volume & vocal variety.  If your class was like mine, video recording was the latest technology, and we got to see ourselves — that might have been more helpful than anything else in the actual course.

Nevertheless, I quickly came to realize how little understanding there was of classical rhetorical thought and how much valuable rhetorical theory was often untaught and/or unknown to most homiletical teachers.

I decided after taking that first class in homiletics that I needed to sit under a homiletic professor who had been classically taught.  I was certain that there was more that could be taught to help future pastors, teachers, and preachers  — Those who would spend their life speaking, and who effectiveness in ministry and thereby the acceptance of their leadership was related to their competence in preaching.

I well understood, both then and now, that there was a moderate aversion to hearing about “rhetorical techniques,” as if such a term meant that we were manipulating an audience.  However, most of the works relating to rhetorical theory in the 16th-19th centuries were written by preachers and they relied heavily on the classical theory.

The reason that preachers were the public speaking educators during those centuries was due to the nature of public speaking as a vocation.  Lawyers, Politicians, and Preachers were the three classes of people who relied on public speaking — sorry, not very illustrious vocations to be associated with these days — and today we could add to those two, the vocation called “sales,”  — like in snake-oil.

I understand that there is a natural aversion to the subject of rhetorical theory.  I might suggest at this point that if, over the years, you have developed our skills as a public speaker, you have probably already learned and used several of these various techniques – consciously or subconsciously.  You just have not quantified them in such a way that you can purposefully choose to use them at any one time.   Very likely, you repeatedly use the same ones and miss out on the potential variety.  You may not know and understand that there are many other ways to be effective or to frame an idea.

Nevertheless, back to my journey.  After my first year in seminary, I enrolled in a class taught by a man who understood “classical rhetorical theory,” and I have never regretted that decision!  During the summer between my Freshman and Middler year of seminary,  I lived in Chicago and took “Homiletics II” at Trinity Evangelical School.  I had the privilege of sitting under a great teacher of homiletical theory, Dr. Lloyd Perry.  He began putting it together for me.

Later I had the privilege of teaching homiletics and pulpit speech at various Christian colleges [ Grace College, Pillsbury, Tennessee Temple, and Baptist Bible College ]. After many years in the pulpit myself, I have been stretched and challenged to communicate God’s truth more effectively.

This blog is an outgrowth of combining

classical rhetorical theory


the art of preaching!

As I read and listen to other preachers, teachers, and public speakers I personally continue to quantify what a speaker is doing.  There are a number of preachers and teachers I listen to consistently because they are just good and great speakers — their national attention validates that assessment as well.  They are effective and were effective early in their ministry.  Whether they fully understood what they were doing or not – consciously or unconsciously . . . . they got it.    

I want to lay it out some of these (and their) homiletical-rhetorical techniques in such a way that others can purposefully incorporate them into what they spend their life doing – seeking to effectively speak truth into the lives of God’s people.

By this time next year, you should have about 250 pages of ideas, illustrated and quantified rhetorical techniques, and useful ideas which can make you more effective at the art of public speaking.

Homiletical Helps Posted Monday – Friday —> thebiblechapterbychapter.wordpress.com

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