Summary: How to preach a grand or majestic sermon
In this lesson I hope to teach the grand style or majestic sermon.
The Romans considered rhetoric to exist on three levels. Low style rhetoric was didactic, teaching. Middle style rhetoric was pleasing, entertaining. But grand style rhetoric was stirring, rousing and moved audiences to action. In preaching this came to be called Grand Style preaching. Augustine also wrote about three kinds of sermon, the subdued sermon for teaching, the elegant sermon for praise and the majestic sermon for exhortation. We have already covered the didactic, teaching sermon in an early lesson and in the previous lesson we covered the praise sermon or doxology. This lesson will introduce preaching in grand style, the majestic sermon.
This chapter focuses on stirring preaching, which is designed to move an audience to action. It may be an exhortation to do something or to dissuade from doing something.
1. A Motivational Appeal
There are two kinds of emotional appeal. One is the motivational appeal, which stirs emotions to action based upon facts and solid reasoning. The other is the totally emotional appeal, based entirely upon pity, hatred, bigotry or some other emotion alone. This kind of emotional appeal is a logical fallacy. That's definitely not what this sermon is about.
This sermon contains more pathos than normal. However, it must also contain the elements of ethos and logos. They serve as a logical foundation for the motivational appeal that is this sermon. Because of the emotional content of this sermon it is best delivered by a preacher who has suffered enough in life's experiences so as to have some deeply mature emotions, and who can preach without notes.
This motivational appeal needs ethos, because if they congregation does not trust you, they will ignore your request for action. This motivational appeal also needs logos, because if you do not base your reasons for the plea on logic, it will just be an appeal based totally upon emotion with no basis in facts. Emotion alone may motivate people, but it is the dishonest device of con artists and shysters, it is not incentive based upon facts. In order for motives to be authentic, they need to be based upon cold, hard facts and solid arguments.
2. An Exhortation
An exhortation is an appeal to do something, an incitement, an encouragement or an earnest attempt at persuasion. In order to rouse the hearer to action, a preacher will want to show that something needs to be done and why it is urgent. He gives some concrete simple tasks that the congregation can do starting today. He shows in simple steps how to accomplish the task. Stress the blessings for doing the right thing, but make sure this is a task that you the preacher are already doing.
3. An Admonition
An admonition is a caution, a warning, a plea not to do something, a deterrent or an earnest attempt at dissuasion. In order to rouse the hearer to avoid an action, a preacher will want to show that something needs to be avoided and why it is urgent. He gives some concrete simple tasks that that congregation can start doing today to avoid this trouble. Stress the blessings for doing the right thing, but make sure that it is something that you the preacher are already avoiding.
Don't use this sermon to attack or accuse the congregation. Solicit their help. Plead your case.
Don't make the emotion the proof of your premise. Emotion is not proof. Make sure that this is an emotional appeal based upon facts not the emotions themselves, a genuine motivational sermon. It is a logical fallacy to make an emotional appeal based upon the emotions alone. When we say that emotions happen with X, therefore X is true; we are making an illogical emotional appeal. However, when we say that X is right because of certain facts, and therefore we strongly appeal to everyone to do X, we are adding an emotional appeal to something that is proven to be true independent of those emotions. We are not influencing people's beliefs by an emotional appeal, but influencing them to do or not do something based upon things which were proven to be true independently of their emotions. That is the only way an emotional appeal can be logical, is if it is motivation based on facts and good reasoning.
John Barbuto in 77 Ways to Motivate Your Workers (University of Nebraska) mentions five basic areas of motivation: fun, rewards, reputation, challenge and purpose. Naturally, we don't want to encourage people to do the right thing for carnal, selfish purposes, but rather altruistic, divine purposes. However, there is nothing wrong with fun for Christians. Obeying God ought to be more real fun than disobedience. A free ticket to the fun park as a reward for a year's worth of faithful attendance at Sunday school is not a bad idea. Proverbs stating that a good reputation pays off is a good motive. Doing the right thing, because it is a challenge will stimulate some people. And, turning purposelessness into God's purpose for our lives, gives life meaning.