Are Preacher’s Merely Hypemen?

A few posts ago, I argued that we cannot trust “shouting” or other outward manifestations of congregational interaction as a valid means of determining if the message was an effective one. It is simply too easy to play on emotions and get a “cheap shout” at the expense of a good and powerful Word of power.

I implore you, please read the comments along with the articles. Sometimes there is more meat in the comment section of the blog than in the article. At any rate, Wendell wrote in response to that article:

I have grown to the point that I now realize that God didn’t call us to be “hypemen” but preachers of a true gospel…no matter how it is received.

What is a Hype Man?

That imagery of “hype men” hit me as an interesting metaphor for what some of us are doing. To those who do not know, the concept of a “hype man” is taken from Hip Hop. It is a secondary rapper whose whole job is to increase audience participation and open the way for the reception of the main course which is the main rapper.

What is interesting about a hype man is that he pushes for the reception of the message. He really deals primarily in the emotive dimension. Let me take the rap group Public Enemy as an example.
Flavor Flav’s job was to get the crowd involved and interacting. His job is to step in at times so that Chuck D. can rest. He also helped the people understand by creating call and response licks.

Note that the hype man plays a supportive role. He supports the rapper and the message of the main rapper. Now this role works best when the hype man supports the message. Then the people are chanting the main message that the group wishes to convey.

Are Preacher’s Hype-men?

Now, are we as preachers “hype men?” That is an interesting question. I think that the metaphor can be both helpful and harmful. Let me say that I agree with the thrust of Wendall’s comment. We are not merely there to turn the congregation into a shouting audience akin to a Rap Concert.

But there are some very interesting functions of the Hype Man that can be helpful to us as we look at our jobs as preachers. First, the hype-man is not the main speaker. The Hype man is there to usher and open the way for someone else. In a sense, the hype-man is an ambassador for the lead rapper. As such, we as preachers do not come in our own name. We don’t come to preach our message. We preach the message of someone else.

Next the hype-man must find a way to promote an experience between the people and the message of the song. This is why they call for the people to get up…experience the song…listen to the song…Shout and repeat certain lyrics in the song. In fact it is a very “call and response”-like experience. Likewise we as preachers are there to aid the people in an experience with the message.

Let me also say that when done well, the hypeman and the lead rapper’s vocals meld together into a whole. Likewise, we as preachers co-preach with the Holy Ghost and hopefully are “on beat” and “in tune” as the Spirit and the preacher come together in great preaching.

Please note that I am not speaking of worship style here. Some can hype the Spirit’s role in a traditional style while others can be in a very “hyped” contemporary style that may or may not have that connection. Style is not my concern in this article, but function!

But Are We Really Hype-Men?

Sometimes when you look on at a great preacher who has allowed the Holy Spirit to use her or him to present a message that touches both the intellect and the emotive dimensions of humanity, some looking on might think there is something wrong.

But if the preacher did her solid exegesis. And if the preacher put together an effective sermon. And if he bathed the sermon in prayer. And if the people get “hyped” as sometimes happens…then we can really see that perhaps there is something to this Hype-man metaphor.

But if the preacher has not really connected to the people. And if the preacher has not exegeted the scripture correctly. And if the preacher is simply trying to hide poor sermon construction habits. And the people still get “hyped” because of an irrelevant celebration or engaging in what Martha Simmons calls the “Dark Side OF Whooping” then I can understand why you wouldn’t like the “Hype-Man Metaphor.”

In the end, let us preach the message that God has given us to preach. And yes sometimes it will cause shouting in a call and response crescendo. Sometimes it will cause crying…But if it is from the Spirit, it will always cause a change in the heart of those whom God is trying to reach with the message.

Comments

comments

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

Posted in blog, Preaching
9 comments on “Are Preacher’s Merely Hypemen?
  1. Minister Evangeline says:

    I love the last sentence of this article because we are ambassadors of Christ. Therefore, we are hype men/women for Him. We are to spread the good news of the gospel, which is Christ, birth, death, burial and resurrection. I have no problem withing this in a hype manner for Christ. We use worship leaders in my baptist congregation as the hype man/woman for Sunday service. This is the person who ushers in the Holy Spirit and gets the congregations mind on the Lord. It’s a shame to say but many people will sit in the service like God never did anything for them.

  2. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    thanks for your comment…I do want to emphasize that I was not primarily speaking about “worship style” when I say that we are hypemen…I am speaking of function.

    I have heard singers sing very traditional and yet serve the function of bringing the spirit and also interacting with the congregation. Some folks can sing “It is well with my soul” and help usher in the spirit of God much better than others talking about “you better stand up and worship God…”

    I updated the original post to attempt to make this more clear. I will do an audio in a day or so to let you know what I am talking bout…

  3. Vernetia Miller says:

    My initial reaction to the term “hypeman” was that it held a negative connotation, but this article has given me a great revelation. On my bio sheet I write that I am “a cheerleader for God”, and your explanation of “hypeman” parallels what I consider a “cheerleader” to be. Some cheerleaders just go through the motions and others bring it from the soul. It is the latter that I strive to be. If the message is in me (if I have prayed, studied, and prepared) then the message will be received, no matter how the “crowd” reacts. My assignment is to bring the message responsibly and truthfully, and let Holy Spirit control the outcome. It’s not my message, but I am one of the mouthpieces chosen to make sure that it is heard.

  4. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    Yes, I fully intended to rip the idea at first…but as I defined what the hypeman does, I was kind of pushed into acceptance of the image as a good metaphor for the task of preaching.

  5. Minister Evangeline says:

    You are right…the congregation will react better with a song than by being told to stand on your feet and worship God….We should always have a song in our heart. I use the congregation to help me sing because that is not my area or I will get someone from the choir to help me with a song selection which is in my heart.

  6. Rev. Kenneth R.Jenkins says:

    Preachers as “Hype Men”? I really don’t think so. Cheerleaders ok I see but never “Hype Men” because to much like hip hop artist instead of preachers.
    If you agree with me let hear ya go yoooo!
    LOL

  7. Rev. Brown says:

    The term “hype-man” is one that I feel should stay in the hip-hop community. I once enjoyed hip-hop and rap music but being in the ministry now I see the extreme differences between what is secular and what revered as holy. Before my sermon I pray that the worship service has welcomed the Holy Spirtit into the sanctuary as well as into people’s hearts so that they are prepared to recieve the bread of life. However, I don’t view my job as a hype-man for Christ. The closest person to a hype-man in the bible would be John the Baptist. Even JTB was viewed as a strange man saying strange things in the wilderness. His message wasn’t readily recieved by everyone. So it is with us as preachers. Our job is not to Hype up Jesus, His Name is all-powerful by itself. Our mission is simple, preach the birth,death,ressurection,ascension,and second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Angels would be more like “hype-(beigns)”

  8. Lorraine Jones says:

    Thank you for daring to bring out a possible metaphor for the function of what we do as preachers.I am a child of the Hip Hop era and I was always fascinated about the way in which concerts were promoted and structured. I admired the energy, forethought, planning, and execution. There were roles that people had played out with varying degrees of success. Just as our study of the Word should require and demand of us our best, there are talents dispersed in different media that we can study and learn from to bring out our best form and function.

  9. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    I thank you for finding this post. It is certainly a “daring” metaphor. Some disagree out of hand not because of the merits of the argument, but because of not wanting to mix “holy and profane.” I do think that the model, that you seem to be expanding in your comment, is a valid one. Please continue to comment…

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Revised Common Lectionary
Proper 14 (February 26, 2017)
  • OT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm: Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b
  • Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
  • Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
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