Preaching with feeling in mind : how cognitive neuroscience encourages a preacher's appeal to emotions

Jay Joye
The purpose of this study is to explore how a preacher appeals to emotions to impact congregants as it correlates with cognitive neuroscience findings.
Countless Biblical texts highlight the importance of emotions in the life of a believer. Likewise, homiletics has long encouraged emotional preaching, calling communicators to wed together logos and pathos. Recent advancements in cognitive neuroscience stress emotions’ importance. Despite the Biblical, homiletical, neuroscientific, and cultural emphases, a lack of expression of emotion may be characteristic of homiletical methodology in the dominant American Protestant church culture.
This study utilized a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with six pastors of different races from reformed denominations. All six pastors were committed to emotional appeals in their preaching. The literature review and constant-comparative analysis of the six interviewees focused on four research questions: how does a preacher appeal to emotions, how is the impact of a sermon measured, what obstacles stand in the way of emotional preaching, and how do these appeals correlate to cognitive neuroscience?
The literature review focused on three key areas to understand a preacher’s appeal to emotions: homiletics’ emphasis on the use of emotions, cognitive neuroscience’s support for appeals to emotions, and the doctrine of illumination.
This study concluded four things regarding appeals to emotion in preaching.
Consensus exists between homileticians, neuroscientists, and practitioners regarding the importance of appealing to emotions. The effectiveness of emotional preaching outweighs the risks associated with it. No appeals to emotion are likely apart from preachers identifying with the emotions of others. The mystery of the Holy Spirit in illumination does not mitigate the necessity of emotional appeals.
Four practices are recommended for preachers: Know your emotional God. Know your emotional self. Know the emotion of your scripture text. Know your emotional contexts.

Preaching Stewardship to Encourage Growth in Missional Outreach in a Small Urban Church

Jeryl Salmond
Like so many other congregations, small churches are suffering from declining membership, and many have closed their doors. This decline has caused many pastors to be concerned about their ability to survive. As a consequence, churches have focused on survival tactics which result in an inward focused church in order to safeguard their limited resources. This inward focus minimizes missional ministry and ignores the pain and brokenness of people in the community that surrounds the church. This issue is particularly impactful in the urban context, where social challenges are prevalent and evidenced by the visible amount of homelessness, hunger, and poverty in the community. This thesis investigates the utilization of preaching stewardship to encourage growth in missional outreach in a small urban church. The preacher must be intentional about developing and delivering sermons that demonstrate the symmetry between stewardship and outreach ministry. This project focused on a small urban church and seeks to demonstrate that preaching stewardship is influential in encouraging growth in missional outreach to offset the needs of the community beyond the church.

Sermons that are perfect : how does meeting with a spiritual director give completion to those who preach?

Edward Hart Schreur
This project is designed to provide information on how receiving spiritual direction helps an individual prepare sermons that are perfect. Perfection is defined not as a sermon that is free of errors but rather as a sermon that is mature and complete, arising out of awareness and knowledge of God that is received, in part, through the experience of receiving spiritual direction.

Chapter 1 provides an introduction to spiritual direction through offering several definitions and a short history.

Chapter 2 describes my experience of receiving spiritual direction and using that experience as a preaching resource.

Chapter 3 provides an analysis of how the experience of receiving spiritual direction is useful in preaching. I give attention to four areas: 1. Increased awareness of God through spiritual direction that is used as a basis for preaching; 2. Increased awareness of self through spiritual direction that is used in preaching; 3. Anecdotal experiences that occur in spiritual direction that can be used as sermon illustrations; 4. Specific content material that arises in spiritual direction that can be used in sermons.

Chapter 4 provides examples of sermons that integrate the findings.

Good news offered anew

Peter Van Elderen
This project is designed to articulate a theory of communication for preaching and teaching which will take into account the formidable changes in communication which have occurred in the last thirty years. This is an exploration of the preaching and teaching event especially as it applies to passing on the doctrines of the church using the Heidelberg Catechism. Particular study is directed toward contemporary thought in business, homiletics, and education as they impact content and style of communication in preaching and teaching in the church.

This project demonstrates that technological changes in a post industrial society do not deter the Gospel from being preached and taught in reasoned passionate testimony apprehendable to all who will listen. This project also reveals that the Bible is not without resource for changes in style of communication, but rather continues to offer a message applicable and critical for both life and death in contemporary society.

Ray Charles by the roadside : a study in narrative preaching

Dann A Stouten
The purpose for doing this study is to introduce narrative homiletics to a broader audience of preachers. It is my hope to add to the diversity in our pulpits by offering an alternate sermon type that is simple to follow, and yet offers a variegated texture and feel through the use of the six different models.

I believe a working definition of narrative preaching would help clarify things at this point. Mine is as follows: Any sermon that follows a plot or story line and begins with a discrepancy and then wrestles with the ambiguities and ultimately concludes with God's final solution. The thesis of this project is that narrative preaching can be learned like spelling or arithmetic or your ABC's if the student is willing to follow a three step pattern of: imbalance, analysis, and solution.

The first step involves stating the discrepancy, the second step is an analysis of the ambiguities and the third step is finding God's solution to the problem.

We use six different sermon models entitled: Recasting the Story, Redating the Story, Remembering the Story, Retelling the Story, Reacting to the Story and Rethinking the Story, along with a running commentary and a listener evaluation form to analyze and demonstrate how narrative preaching can be done.

Let's preach together! : a resource for lay preaching

Timothy L Brown
This project proposes to help congregations unleash the reservoir of persons gifted to preach, assisting them in fulfilling the Lord's command to be his "witnesses" until he returns, through an examination of some pertinent biblical and theological data, largely from the witness of Luke/Acts, which not only encourages it, but even requires it.

Chapter One offers a kind of "prelude" to lay preaching. It discusses a select range of concerns that have been discovered in the process that need to be addressed before a congregation can affirm the ministry of lay preaching.

Chapter Two provides an analysis of the "advance" and "growth" of the Word of God in Luke and Acts. Of particular concern are Luke's "progress reports in Acts 6:7, 12:12, and 19:20. This chapter demonstrates that the Word of God grows and prevails and in a certain manner of speaking draws the church into proclamation.

Chapter Three offers a plan for the recruitment, equipment and support of lay preachers. A ten session course outline is proposed to demonstrate the kinds of concerns that need to be addressed in the recruitment/equipment process. The concerns range from a review of the varying models for preaching provided in Acts, to dealing with some more pastoral and personal concerns such as development of "people eyes", and "facing our fears."

Chapter Four, "Responding to Questions: A Theological Prescript", deals with some of the questions that I have encountered throughout the process of research and writing. For the most part the questions were clarifying/expanding questions, but one particular question struck at the heart of the project, "How would your congregation be different than it is, or look different than it does, if this (project paper) were fully implemented?"

A paradigm for preaching personal and social transformation

Gregory Heille
Preaching, in this paper, is broadly presented as the oral midrash by which individuals and communities reappropriate the past and, in the midst of present struggle, step forward into a transformed future. This is personal and communal struggle, made possible by the unfolding miracle of language, regulated by Scripture, and served by the preaching ministry of transformative leaders.

Chapter 1 presents Christian life as an open system, oriented toward transformation. Chapter 2 examines paradigm change in theology and presents preaching as a hermeneutical act in which the believing Assembly seeks historical consciousness by reappropriating tradition in the light of a new paradigm. Chapter 3 compares a methodological shift toward historical consciousness and personal responsibility in Roman Catholic social teaching to a more classical emphasis on law in catholic sexual teaching. Catholics approach the preaching act searching for meaning in this incoherent experience of differing methodologies and paradigms.

Chapter 4 studies language as an agent of paradigm change, first by setting preaching in the context of oral, written, and electronic culture.

Chapter 5 integrates discussion of the ideas of this paper by ten preachers and reflects on the preaching act as an act of choral listening, the importance of the self-definition of the preacher, and the implications of differing paradigms of authority for Christian life and preaching. Chapter 6 concludes the paper by exploring the gifts of insight and imagination by which Christians, in an act of conversion, turn toward God in the sacrament of preaching.

Personal theological life-themes : keys to passionate preaching

David A Peterson
This project examines the impact and opportunities of the objective (transcendent) and subjective (experiential) elements inpreaching. The writings of Mark, Matthew, Luke, John and Paul, and the writing and preaching of John Calvin, Karl Barth, Frederick Buechner and myself, David Peterson, serve as key resources.

Chapter One defines the meaning of a Personal Theological Identity as God's unique revealing activity in and through our individual moments and personalities. These identities manifest themselves in certain themes that dominate all theological thought and speech and pose both rich resources and perilous obstacles for the preacher.

Chapter Two examines the impact of the interests of the various gospel writers upon the New Testament witness. The following four chapters carefully consider the writing and preaching of various individuals, identifying the themes that so often recur in their work:

Chapter Three: John Calvin (1) the sovereignty of God (2) Christ the mediator and (3) the vital need for orderly existence.

Chapter Four: Karl Barth (1) how does one Know God (2) God as the Being who loves in freedom and (3) to exist is to act.

Chapter Five: Frederick Buechner (1) the grace in the ordinary (2) facing the whole truth (3) the plot as a shared journey and (4) the silence in the plot.

Chapter Six: David Peterson (1) finding the "whys" (2) the audience of grace (3) transformation is always possible (4) freedom and grace and (5) the providential sovereignty of God.

The Seventh and final chapter summarizes the tension that dominates the work of the preacher. This tension requires that the preacher (1) listen for God by being fully absorbed in the daily drama of life and (2) attempt to see beyond the personal themes that so easily dominate the sermon by being continuously involved in theological investigation.

Preaching from teaching : an adult Sunday School workbook and methodology

James D Lester
"Preaching from Teaching" sets forth a design for the production of a series of sermons. It is an encouragement to pastors to include geographical, historical, and archaeological material, theological themes, and contemporary issues, in the planning for their adult teaching to enhance their preaching.

The first part of the project is the creation of a student workbook as an illustration of an adult teaching curriculum. Genesis 11:30-25:10 serves as the model for the workbook entitled "Rejoicing In New Beginnings." Chapter one "Traveling with God" is a review of appropriate geographical conditions, the historical background, and life settings of Abraham and Sarah. Chapter two, "Friends with God, "is a study of the theological themes from the passages. Chapter three, "Living Everyday with God, "is an examination of the contemporary faith and life issues which can be identified from the Abraham and Sarah narrative. Each chapter is designed to be one twelve week quarter of Sunday School lessons. The workbook serves as resource material of the class, but it also is designed to prompt the students to reflect on the data which has been presented.

The second part of the project is a methodology explaining how a series of sermons can be produced using the classroom experience and material. The section, "In the Study," is a description of the process of selecting passages, planning the curriculum, and preparing the workbook. The unit, "In the Classroom," offers some thoughts about the presentation of the workbook, but primarily emphasizes the need for the pastor to dialogue with the class and then retrieve the essence of those issues for direction in sermon preparation. The third of this group, "From the Pulpit," sets forth the practice of making sermons from the workbook and the classroom interactions.

Preaching with the Heidelberg Catechism today

Arie W Blok
This project is designed to give an overview of catechetical preaching today.

Chapter One looks at the present state of catechetical preaching and the various attitudes toward catechetical preaching. The practice of catechetical preaching is now in decline, both in quality and quantity.

Chapter Two deals with the problems of catechetical preaching. It is often repetitious from year to year and therefore boring. Preachers sometimes brings theological presuppositions to their preaching that are different from the views expressed by the Heidelberg Catechism.

Chapter Three gives us reasons why catechetical preaching can still be useful and relevant. The Heidelberg Catechism provides us with a useful framework of thought and confession. Its emphasis on the promises of God can be a very effective antidote to legalism and cold orthodoxy.

Chapter Four studies and critiques the approaches to catechetical preaching of Peter Y. DeJong, the Dutch Pietists, Heinrich Ott, Eugene Heideman, Shinji Masuda, and Paul Calvin Zylstra.

Chapter Five explores ways in which the Heidelberg Catechism can be preached with Scripture texts so that catechetical preaching will be, at the same time, valid and faithful exegesis of the chosen text and useful exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism.

A method is discussed by which a non-traditional congregation can be introduced to catechetical preaching and the Catechism presented as a reminder of what the Bible teaches.
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