Subjectivity and Rhetorical Flair in Preaching

Henry Mitchell states: “Real soul preaching demands rhetorical flair” in the book Black Preaching: The Recovery of a Powerful Art. He also states: “The flow and phraseology of the King James Version will never die in America while Black Christianity stays Black.”

Black preaching demands not just saying what you want to say, but the way in which you say it. The preacher should use “rhetorical flair” to aid the presentation of the gospel through the sermonic event.

This is why I suggest that one should have at least three edits of the black preacher’s sermon manuscript. One of them is a rhetorical edit. Here you should attempt to say what you say in as poetic a way as possible. You can download the free book You Can Preach where I describe this.

Also related to this, Mitchell notes that the preacher should not attempt to be objective in the presentation. The preacher is not objective but is invested deeply in the presentation. The preacher is attempting to give God’s side of the story and to be a vehicle to convert others to that view.

The preacher is not an objective reporter of the news, but a subjective cheerleader for the gospel. When the preacher takes into account the actual word choice and attempt to line that up with the behavioral purpose of the sermon then it will have a good chance of reaching the deep “core belief” of the hearers.

Sherman Haywood Cox II

Vanderbilt Trained Minister (MDiv), Univ. of Alabama Trained Software Developer (MS), Author, Blogger (, Husband, Son, Brother, Father.

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