Importance of Style

Some have said that I spend too much time writing about “style.” These individuals say that what is important is not the “style” but the “content.” They argue that one of the greatest problems with much African American preaching is spending too much time worrying about the style.

Style Affects Listener Understanding

I will answer this in two ways. First, style affects how the hearer understands the message. We all have heard about preachers who have great content, but they just can’t deliver the message. Listen to your favorite lecturer at college. Did she speak in a monotone way? Did she deliver the message with animation that comes from knowing and loving the material?

It is interesting that some preachers who claim to ignore style have great style themselves. They may not “whoop” but they are masters of cadence. They may not use various pulpit devices, but they make explicit use of call and response. Simply put, a “no style” style will turn the people off and make your material almost non understandable. Style affects how the hearers understand your message.

It is true that there are some preachers who only have style, and they don’t have a message that corresponds to it. The important thing is for preachers to have a strong message and embody that message in their mannerisms, word choice, style, and yes other areas of content.

Most of Communication is Nonverbal

The second problem with those who wish to say style is unimportant is that style affects the message itself. We are told that the vast majority of communication is in nonverbal. It is the way you say something. It is the glisten in your eye. It is the strength of your convictions. All of thesee parts will come through in what we call “style.” No content is not something that is totally independent of style. Style is a part of the content.

You can say the phrase “God is a good God” while mocking the statement. How? In the way you say it, the body language could say something else. You can say the same phrase while celebrating it. You can say the same exact phrase while trying to convince yourself of it. You can say the same phrase in many ways, but changing the WAY you say it.

Preaching Style is Important

Preaching style is important. How you say something affects how it is hard. In addition, How you say something affects WHAT is heard. So we should not ignore the question entirely. Now you may think that SoulPreaching.Com spends too much time talking about stylistic concerns. Perhaps we do, I think we do not, in any case, all of us should spend some time thinking about this important characteristic of preaching.

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
One comment on “Importance of Style
  1. Roger B. Abuloc says:

    Certainly style is part and parcel of a message. No matter how brilliant is your content but if there’s deficient in your delivery, the message then would just be regarded as “one of those things,” or very ordinary. The meat of the message is lost by a poor style. And therefore, less understandable and anemic in the delivery.

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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
Af Am Heritage Lectionary
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