Now I am going to begin a series of posts on Black Preaching style. This will go on for a while often interrupted by other posts. In this first one I look at Mannerisms that Henry Mitchell describes in his book Black Preaching: The Recovery of a Powerful Art.
Mitchell notes that Black congregations are very permissive of mannerisms of the preacher. Basically the congregation expects that the preacher will be his or herself in the presentation of the gospel and even welcomes things that might be considered quirks in other traditions.
These mannerisms could be gestures, eye movement, and even word choice. Sometimes mannerisms can be excessive and distracting, but often they become almost a “signature” for the preacher that a preacher can use to effectively present her or his message. Mitchell notes some examples like unbuttoning the collar and digging the chin in the chest. We can all probably think of some things like the preacher who always removes his jacket when the preacher is about to enter the “celebration.”
In short the African American congregation expects that the preacher will embody the Gospel message by authentically being his or herself.