Rhetoric & Homiletics: What Does “Anchor” Have To With Bowling?

bowling ball pins

If you spend your life working in the world of words — in the world of speaking and preaching — may I suggest building a Dictionary of Related Words.

I have posted a partial example of mine, which I have added and added to over the years and is now over 180 pages.

A “Dictionary of Related Words” is not just a “Thesaurus.”  It is not even the most unabridged thesaurus because a thesaurus is aimed at giving you synonyms.

“Related Words” are not only synonyms but other words and thoughts that are related to that word.

What is a synonym for “Automobile?” (#1)

Land Vehicle
Motor Vehicle
Passenger Car

However, related words would not only include (#2). . . . .


sports car
bucket of bolts
horseless carriage

BUT Also (#3) . . . .

miles per gallon
backup lights
delivery car – truck
fog lights
speeding ticket
road signs

Now there are some “thesaurusssss” which are better than others and do offer more words that have somewhat a synonymous possibility — (#2).  However, there are almost none that go to the (#3) level.


What is the value of a “Dictionary of Related Words?”

#1) General Recall:  From a purely secular vantage, sometimes a writer or speaker can’t remember the word he/she is trying to recall.  As an aside, as you get older, you will understand this value more and more.

You can’t remember it. However, it is related to a general category . . . .

“It’s the thing that sets off the spark plugs in their proper order  – the – the — in a car — part of the engine — the — the . . . . “


#2) Word Precision & Clarity: Speakers and writers may settle for a less precise word, that actually blurs the thought process of the audience or reader.  The right word for that item or object is “distributor.” 1


#3) Rhetorical Creativity — “Inventio”2: If you are a speaker or preacher, it can be helpful in several ways . . .

√  Does Away With Indefinite Terminology — “things” / “that kind of stuff”
√  Promotes Clarity
√  Helps An Audience Visualize
√  Generates New & Different Ideas
√  Basic To Building An Analogical Illustration




Analogical Illustrations
carry far more weight
than merely introducing
the general topic of the speech or message!

(Ask Tony Evans — he is a master at analogical illustrations)

Let me build an analogical illustration from my “bowling list of related words.”3

Here is the related word I am going to use. . . . .


Yes, it comes from the world of BOWLING!  If you looked up “bowling” in a dictionary or a thesaurus, you would not find “anchor” because it is not a synonym for “bowling,” but it is related to bowling.

Now, I know next to nothing about bowling, but a natural curiosity is a part of being a good speaker and/or improving one’s speaking ability. 

There were a good number of words related to bowling that I had no idea what they meant!  When I came across this term — “anchor” — it sparked my curiosity!  What does “anchor” have to do with bowling —  ???? —  I decide to learn a little more about that term and its meaning in the bowling world.

Now, it may take time and some simple research to learn a little about this-or-that term. Especially if it is in a field that you know little about.  Nevertheless, there is great value in picking up this-or-that concept/thought/idea for its future usefulness!  That is part of “memoria.”

Back to “anchor” . . . . .

• The “anchor” is related to a bowling team.4.

• The “anchor” is typically the best player on the bowling team.

• He/she usually bowls last in group competition.

• He/she is usually the team’s best bowler who . . . .

has the highest game average and/or
is the best performer under pressure.

As soon as I have those facts, I immediately see where I can go with it.

Off the Cuff . . . . Here Goes . . . .
Let’s build the analogical illustration  — Tony Evans Style 5. . . . .



Now I have bowled a few times, along with my children, youth groups, or friends.  Sometimes we would just bowl individually and at other times we would spontaneously organize teams.

Now when professional teams are bowling, they play the game a little differently from how they bowl when there is a one-on-one match.     

On professional team bowling, you have what is called an “anchor.”  The anchor is that player how either is a high scorer or can pull out the win when under pressure.  They bowl last on the team.  When it is crunch time, you want the player who can give you the greatest chance of winning.

(Could include:  “One person said this about bring the anchor . . . ” — see )

You look for that team member who has the highest average and can take the pressure of winning or losing on his or her last attempts.

It is that team member who over time – time and time again – has been tested.

Professional – competitive teams want the last attempt at winning to be “anchored” by that team member who is at the top of the game – who has shown himself or herself to be highly skilled and accomplished.  A winning team looks for that person who has bowled a 300 game and has that potential again.

And, if the tournament is running close, the team members want someone who can handle the pressure of delivering a victory.  Some do not handle that pressure well and some even realize that as they look towards that team member who they know can and has!

An “anchor” is the team’s best hope of accomplishing the goal, and they all recognize that as they anticipate each approach, delivery, and the break of those 10 pins.

An “anchor” is what you need when you are part of a team that wants to win.  No one is jealous of someone being designated the team’s anchor because they know that winning is the team’s aim at the end.

In the Bible, there are lots of team members who were on the team.  Many who may not have been the anchor, but they were on the team and were there for the win.

They were leaning on their “anchor” to bring it home at the end – and they did exactly that – they stepped up and delivered the win for the Kingdom . . . .

Abraham – with his 318 servants
David’s Might Men – in all different situations
Mordecai – for his people scattered throughout Persia
David – over Goliath
Deborah – Israel’s judge
Jael – drove a tent peg
Shadrach-Meshack-Abednego – Daniel 3:28
Joseph – his people from a famine
Gideon – – with his 300 men



Biblical Applications:  seeing a biblical character as an “anchor”

♦ Hebrews 11 is the story of biblical “anchors” – those who finish the last frames – marking all the final frames — on behalf of the team.  Of there were many other team members that were part of the victory, but they were the anchors that brought that victory all together.

♦ Mordecai was the “anchor” of the Jewish people throughout the Persian kingdom.  He showed that he was a force to be reckoned with over time – time and time again.  He challenged Esther to join him and to deliver the final blow against Haaman – under great personal pressure – knowing that there was a death sentence against him and his people if he failed.

♦ David: Now, David did had some past experience when it came to giants, and he became the “anchor” man in facing down Goliath.  He had the best single record. . . .

♦ Joseph was the “anchor” man.  He was that individual who had the highest score in uprightness among all the sons of Jacob.  He as an individual who would and who could take the pressure of being marginalized by his brother, tempted by Mrs. Potiphar, and dealing emotionally with years of uncertainty. . . . .


Ministry Application: in light of present-day ministry

♦ There are times when it comes to working together in a church ministry – you need an “anchor.”  Someone who can bring it all together at the end.  As everyone does their part and role, there are those who at the end is really good at this-or-that kind of ministry and can handle the pressure which comes with wrapping it all together.

We have all seen these people who are able to step up and put it all together at the end. They have done this before and can handle the pressure of making it a success for everyone.

Sometimes, it is that person who puts all the final touches on a program or an event.  This little twist, addition, positioning, or that extra element or placement.  Those adjustments to the layout or plan brought it all together!

Maybe it was in the public opening comments for this-or-that event.  They deliver opening comments which just frame the event in a way that it attracted others to appreciate and enjoy it.  It really set up and explained what all the work and effort was about.

Sometimes it is a speaker or preacher who steps up and clearly and forcefully lays out the Gospel at the end of the program.


Personal Application: in light of one’s personal life

♦ Dads — you’re are the team’s anchor.  You are that person who needs to and should be able to deliver a win for your family.

♦ Every one of us as Christians is meant to be that “anchor” in this world.  We should be the most effective in life and living and those who can handle the pressure in the times when others are struggling.

♦ Pastors are the “anchors” of the church family – the local team.





1. The word “distributor” would be another great word to build an analogical illustration off of — distributes the 12 volts, which has been amped up through a coil, to delivery the plugs which are designed to create the spark needed, which then sets off the controlled explosion in the cylinder.

2. Inventio:

Part of Classical Rhetorical Theory includes the concept called “Invention – Inventio

It does not mean “inventing things which are not true” or “creating something which is new,” but the task of mentally brainstorming as to . . . .

√ how to present a truth, an idea, a concept

√ what is the best way to develop the idea with the audience

√ how should one arrange any of the arguments (strongest to weakest?)

√ what will capture the audience’s attention and interest

√ what visuals should I use – if any

√ what would be a good analogy to use in an explanation

√ what other passages should I bring in to the message

√ whether one should take a diversion in order to make a valuable point

√ what should I assume or not assume the audience needs to know


“Inventio” is the creative part of a preparing a message or a speech and encompasses all other parts of the message — the introduction, the laying out of the points, the statement of the points, the illustrations which were chosen, possible applications, and the design of the conclusion.

One is not creating something that is new, that is, which cannot be found in the Bible, but something new only in the sense that your presentation and development of the truth or principle to the audience is “new” and that is why it is yours and not another’s, and that is why all speakers are different, as well as effective, or ineffective.

Good-to-Great speakers work at developing and presenting this-or-that biblical truth or principle so that the audiences . . . .

gets it, and/or
feels it, and/or
sees it, and/or
grasps it, and/or
understands it, and/or
remembers it, and/or
values it.

That takes work, and it is the creative side of preparing a message or a speech.  One can be furthered in this task by having co-workers, fellow pastors, insightful friends, participants around a table talking about the passage and presentation.  However, many a pastor operates alone in the secluded pastoral study — either by situation (he is the sole pastor of the flock) or by choice (he fails to take advantage of other minds).

If you would like to develop your creative skills in the development and preparation of a message or speech, there are tools that can and do help — and help more and more as your mind goes down paths which have been developed by the repeated exercise of “inventio” skills.


3. My Dictionary Of Related Words . . . . 

Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 11.09.57 AM.png

4.  Bowling Comments About Being The Anchor:

“A lot of the guys I bowl with dread being placed in the “anchor” position. I’ve had guys threaten to quit. Sometimes, we want to shake up our line-up to see if we’ll score better and win more as a team, but the anchor position is me…and it’s non-negotiable. . . . Personally, I like being anchor. If the game is on the line, I want the ball. But I’m not suicidal if I fail.

Here’s what I think a bowling team’s line up should be.
1st bowler, is your leadoff bowler,  he should be your best spare shooter and most consistent in order to start off each frame w/ a mark.  your 2nd and 3rd bowlers should be your weakest bowlers w/ your 4th and anchor bowler being able to close out a match in the correct way.  With this lineup,  if your 2nd and 3rd bowlers do anything much above their average, you are always going to be tough to beat in a handicap league.



5.  There are a good number of examples from Tony Evans’ messages on this web-blog worth examining.

Tony Evans on where he gets his illustrations [Audio Link]:

Well it’s you use a great word, and that was the word “philosophy” because I assume something  – OK – and the assumption is everything is an illustration.

And because I operate with that assumption — it’s kind of hard — sometimes I do it’s when I’m with preachers — I tell them — point to point out something in the room, and they’ll just point out anything  — and I’ll immediately turn into an illustration.

 And maybe some of that is personality,  but it’s also philosophy

because I assume that everything created has been created by God or is in opposition to God and therefore has a spiritual, theological framework it can illustrate something in the spiritual realm

and because I’ve operated that way I see illustrations all the time

so I have some planned, and some come on the spot

and some events happen while I’m a while I’m preaching — something happens then it becomes an illustration at the moment — but the practice of that turns it into a mental orientation that that flows out because the more you do it — the better you get at it.


6. Other Interesting & Maybe Useful Bowling Terms To Work With . . . .


Baby split: an easy split to turn into a spare . . . a split in which the two and seven pins or the three and ten pins remain standing.

Open Frame: A frame when the bowler did not have a strike or spare

Perfect 300:The bowler marks each and every frame with a strike. A perfect game in bowling means a score of 300, and it takes a total of 12 throws, all needing to be strikes. This will give them a score of 300That is the highest that can be achieved in one game of bowling.

Reading The Lanes: “The ball will follow its path based upon the speed the ball travels, friction on the lane surface, the type of ball you use, and your release technique. In bowling, we cannot see the invisible lane oil lubricant used to protect the lane surface from excessive friction caused by bowling balls rolling … Lane oil, primarily a mineral oil substance, is applied from the foul line down the lane usually up to 42 feet maximum distance or slightly less. . . . You must learn to read the bowling lane by means of observing your ball reaction.

Rosin Bag: “As with baseball, even ten-pin bowlers use the rosin bag to improve the grip, and it can be used both on your fingers or in the three gripping holes. Bull Riding or Rodeo During rodeos, the most important thing for a rider is to maintain his grip, and this is what the rosin bag helps with, and can be used both on the gloves as well as the ropes.”


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