Call and Response in Preaching
Robert Gelinas completes his look at the fundamentals principles of Jazz as it relates to Christian Theology by looking at Call and Response. When one listens to Jazz music, one will hear different instruments communicating and “calling” out to each other. The other instruments that were called to will then respond. The nice thing about this phenomenon is that the outcome is a different entity than if call and response was not present.
In preaching, the preacher is not alone. The people respond to various cues from the preacher. Some of these are overt like when the preacher asks “Is there anybody in here…” At other times the cues are less overt like when a preacher appeals to an old hymn or a cliche’ from the church and leaves room for the people to respond. As the people respond, the preacher changes and alters the direction of the sermon. Thus, the people help to construct the sermon.
Let me also say that the call and response is not only with the people. Listen to preacher who will say something like “help me Holy Ghost.” Also when the preacher leaves space for God to work. In the end, God as well as the people are allowed to alter the sermon as it is preached. Yes, call and response is a very important component of the African American sermon, and any preacher must allow the people and God to alter the presentation so that the people may understand and be transformed by the sermon.