Rhetoric & Homiletics: One Element of Effective Speaking.

See the source image  Surely, That Approach Will Work! – NOT!

There is a difference between communication which is aimed at “expression” versus “persuasion.”  Persuasion is the aim of a speaker who is interested in moving an audience to a deeply held belief, of which is what most speakers and surely preachers are aiming.

However, some speakers have little to no interest in persuasion, just expression.  The artist who created the daily cartoon “Lil’ Abner” — Al Capp — was just such a speaker in the 1960-70’s.  His tribe has exponentially increased between 2016-2019, as demonstrated in the political speech, which dominates the news.

A new voice has just been added to this tribe of “rhetorical expressionist” just this past week.  As you listen to and/or read her speech, you realize how ineffective this approach is — that is if you are interested in moving an audience to a deeply held belief.

Greta Thunberg is a lesson in how to violate all the rules common sense principles of persuasion — both verbally and non-verbally!

She is a reminder that as pastors and preachers, we can be drawn into this kind of thinking and rhetorical approach in 2019!

Some preachers have been pulled into this rhetorical mindset.

Shocking messages on sex
Harsh words towards those who know not Christ
Caustic comments about those who “opposed themselves”
Uncomfortable humor
Ungainly comments about woman or minorities
Slanderous remarks about those who disagree

. . . . . have too often peppered the landscape of Christian preaching.

The words we use and how we say what we say can help people to listen and to even move to valuable deeply held beliefs.

I Peter 3:15 — “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”

Colossians 4:6 — “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”



1. “Li’l Abner is a satirical American comic strip that appeared in many newspapers in the United States, Canada, and Europe, featuring a fictional clan of hillbillies in the impoverished mountain village of Dogpatch, USA. Written and drawn by Al Capp (1909–1979), the strip ran for 43 years, from August 13, 1934 through November 13, 1977.”

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