The purpose of delineating various rhetorical techniques is to provide a compendium of possibilities for consideration when “building” a speech or message. In order to do that, a listener must go “analytical.” That is, to listen to examples of biblical preaching and seek to quantify what a speaker is doing. If you can quantify it, you can reproduce the technique — not reproduce their words, but their rhetorical techniques — and apply that technique to what you are speaking about in your message. We are going analytical . . . .
in order to see what is being done by the speaker which . . . .
- pulls in our interest
- captures our interest
- gives us reason to regard
- gets us thinking
- catches our attention
- causes us to mentally engage
- causes us to concur
- helps us apply it
- re-catches our attention
- turns on the lights
- makes it understandable
- turns on the lights and gives real clarity
- helps an audience see it, visualize it
- provokes applicability to our situation
- completes the picture
One of the purposes of understanding and applying various rhetorical techniques is to give clarity to a point, a principle, a truth, or a passage.
“Be clear! Be clear! Be clear!” Clarity does not come easily. When we train to be expositors, we probably spend three or four years in seminary. While that training prepares us to be theologians, it sometimes gets in our way as communicators. Theological jargon, abstract thinking, or scholars’ questions become part of the intellectual baggage that hinders preachers from speaking clearly to ordinary men and women.” ― Haddon W. Robinson,
Clarity is one of the several aims of understanding some of the various rhetorical techniques. Sometimes there are teachers and preachers who quickly dismiss the idea of rhetorical techniques as methods of manipulation. Let me assure you, everyone who is competent in communication is employing various effective methods or techniques, whether they can identify them or not. A good-great communicator is good-great because . . . .
√ Their minds naturally leans towards using various effective rhetorical methods. They just “get it;” they grasp how communication works. They were effective from the beginning. From the get-go. they were easy to listen to and effective with whatever audience, passage, or theme (i.e., Tony Evans, Paul Shepherd, Andy Stanley), or
√ They have learned how to communicate effectively by trial an error over time – some faster, others far too slowly, or
√ They have unconsciously adapted and adopted some or many of the rhetorical techniques of other great speakers, or
√ They have worked at understanding communication. They have worked with words, structure, organizational alternatives, imagery, illustrating, clarity, capturing and keeping attention, presentation, timing, length, audience adaptation, or
√ They have developed into good-great communicators by a combination of the above.
As we examine various present-day messages and identify various rhetorical techniques, you need not see them as manipulative, but actually as effective methods employed by most all good-great communicators. The rhetorical methods have an effectual aim! One of them is clarity.
“For preachers clarity is a moral matter. It is not merely a question of rhetoric, but a matter of life and death. Imagine a physician who prescribes a drug but fails to give clear instructions about how and when the drug is to be used. The physician puts the patient’s life at risk. It is a moral matter for a doctor to be clear. So, too, when we proclaim God’s truth, we must be clear.” ― Haddon W. Robinson,
******************** Tony Evans Example *******************
Main Idea: GOD USES DETOURS AS PART OF HIS DESIGN FOR OUR LIVES
√ First of all, Tony Evans announces the topic.
√ That is followed by the topic stated in the form of a question.
√ Then Evans does a series of things. Evans . . . .
- calls up the spiritual nature of detour
- brings in the biblical character which is going to be examined
- relates the word “detours” with the common experience of driving a car
√ . . . and then notice how Evans sets up the audience for what he is about to say with keywords and phrases that all feed into the main idea. Evans calls-up words and phrases which set up the principles and points he is going to make, as will be seen in the biblical narrative of the life of Joseph. The words and phrases have been purposefully chosen. They are chosen and used because they are set up the principles and points Evans is going to make about God’s detours!
All these steps are methods to make the message clear. Surely, no one could say that they did not know where Evans was going in his message.
In fact, with just this introduction, and a little knowledge about the biblical character “Joseph” most listeners could anticipate the points and principles which will be developed in the sermon!
Here is one version of that introduction and its audio link.
We’re going to talk today about the purpose of detours.
Why does God send us on this winding road to get us to where he wants us to be?
Why doesn’t He work with us in a straight line from A to Z?
Well, detours = God’s unpredictable path to taking you from where you are to where He wants you to be — that’s part of the route for living the Christian life and arriving at your destiny.
Let’s track the purpose in the life of Joseph to understand why God allows us to go on detours.
Detours — detours are distractions from the original intended route that you would plan to go.
When we get in our cars – we get in our cars with the destination in mind — we typically know how we plan to get there — which highway we’re going to take — which streets we’re going to turn on — to arrive at the destination that we’re headed to.
But along the way on many occasions, we run into a detour.
Detours are typically unexpected.
You run into them — You run into a sign — or you run into a person who steers you – or a police who directs you in another route – and detours are normally out of the way — they take you off the beaten path.
It takes you longer than you had planned to be using to arrive at where you are hoping to go.
Often detours are inconvenient. The straight line was a convenient line but now a whole lot of folks on the detour – slowing you down from getting where you want to go.
Detours are typically inconvenient distractions taking you off of your pre-planned route to arrive at the destination that you are seeking to reach.
Below is a second version of this same message. I have provided it because it again highlights the words and phrases which set up the audience for the points which are going to be made in such a message. Tony Evans is a master as using words and phrases which are BY THOUGHTFUL DESIGN aimed at highlighting and emphasizing the points he is going to make!
Detours are distractions from the original, intended route that we had planned to take. When we get in our cars, we usually have a destination in mind. Typically, we know how we plan to get there, to include the roads and highways we intend to take along the way. But, on many occasions, we run into detours—things that take us off the pre-planned route that we had determined to use to get where we had hoped to go.
Detours are typically unexpected and inconvenient. Perhaps a police officer redirects traffic down a different road or a fellow driver flags us down to help with their broken vehicle. They take us off our intended route, and as such, it takes us longer than we had planned to get to our final destination. A straight line is simple, and an uninterrupted journey is preferable to a whole lot of stopping and starting . . . . . But He rarely ever takes us to that destiny apart from detours. He seldom takes us from point A to point B without causing us to make stops at P, X, and Q along the way. As such, we almost never know which letter He’s going to pull out of the hat next!