Wednesday, October 7, 2009

#76-Turning to a neigbor to repeat a line from the sermon at the Preacher's request....

The one of the main purposes of the lesson is to get the audience to grow in understanding. There are many ways to go about this method:
  • A power point slide presentation
  • A handout broken down by lists
  • An object lesson for adults (not too much different from the Sunday School Version)
  • Telling the same tales over again but adjusting them slightly to fit with the sermon topic

One other classic homiletic device that seeks the same purpose is
for the pastor to say a brief sentence (or a larger sentence broken down by fragments) which either closely corresponds to the message itself or has a bit of side wit and wisdom about it.

After the reading of the sentence, the preacher will then instruct the audience to look at their neighbor and recount the same line.

Some variations of this method exist, most notable of which is the "tap your neighbor on the shoulder (or leg) if it's appropriate and tell them ________________."

If the preacher is witty and wants some audience laughter, he will mention the above action is necessary to wake their neighbor up if they are sleeping....

There are some nuances about this audience engagement device however:
  • Can we have a formal definition of which kind of contact/relationship is "appropriate?" I know it's assumed, but sometimes a 15 year old may use the occasion to touch their current crush on the knee ever so slightly under the guise that the preacher told him to....This definition would also work closely with holding the hand of your neighbor in prayer "if it's appropriate" where once again, which relationships and what age does one need to be where the hand holding of opposite genders is appropriate?
  • This turning to a neighbor is also a great way to make it appear like you were paying attention through the entire sermon because who is to say that you weren't paying attention when you were able to recount a line the preacher asked us to recount to our neighbor?
  • What happens to the awkward ones who are left without someone to speak the line to? This happens numerous time and it's kind of sad to see when the lonely guy/girl looks to her left and see's her one friend recounting the line to her neighbor on the other side, and then the lonely individual looks right only to come up empty as well....Are they supposed to recant the line to themselves? Of course there is always the possibility for the lonely person to look around and find another lonely person in a nearby pew/seat, but this too is very awkward once eye contact is made because it's mutually understood loneliness as they recount the line to each other....each person knowing full well that if given the opportunity they would never be restating the line they are to that person should one of their friend not be preoccupied with their other neighbor.
  • Does this turning to your neighbor and repeating a line that is usually cliche really help the listener that much? Who knows, but the intricacies are many as a result.

Special thanks to a friend, Rachel Tatum for this post suggestion.


  1. This is just public speaking 101. A way of engagement. While most all Apostolics are familiar with this, it's certainly not unique to Apostolics.

  2. I hate it when a speaker has us do this in the service. It breaks my focus on the sermon and, as far as I've seen, makes a joke out of a serious point as most people start grinning at their friends or staring uneasily at the empty space next to them. I would be fine if I was never in a service this happened in again.