A Comparative Analysis Between a Preacher's Practice and Homiletic Theory

Curtis Castillow, Utah State University


This qualitative research compared the practice of an expert preacher to co re concepts in homiletic theory (the art and craft of preaching), searching for discrepancies between what theory suggested and what the preacher practiced. It also sought to validate that the preacher practiced what homiletic theorists prescribed and to inform homiletic theory by describing strategies he employed unlike those espoused in homiletic theory.

The research also revealed that the preacher had a personal homiletic philosophy where in everything in his preparation, message design, and deli very centered on relevancy. The preacher felt strongly tha t the message had to apply to his listeners in meaning li.rl ways. The preacher's strength centered not so much on how he prese nted, but what he prese nted. Hi s sermons were fill ed with what homilet ic theori st Sunu kjian call ed " time less truths." They made the preacher's sermons insightful, hopeful, and most of all, relevant to his listeners

To discover whether the participant's practice was congruent with theory, I first identified seminal theories. They were class ified into the following modifi ed version or Broadus's ca tegories of ideal preaching: (a) co ntent. (b) arra ngement, (c) introduction, trans ition, and conclusion, (d) style, (e) illustra tions, and (f) the del ivery. I crea ted a rubric from the literature review as a standard from whi ch I compared the part icipant 's audio and video sermons. The rubric had six categories, 39 subcategories, and 58 characteristics of ideal preaching to which the preacher was compared. The anal ys is included frequency counts of certain words, phrases, illustrations, and the results of the Flesch's Reading Ease score. To find strategies employed by the participant but not represented in the literature, I also used an inductive method to analyze the integral parts and patterns of the sermons.

The analysis revealed that the preacher's practice was congruent with theory yet the preacher had never read homiletic theory. Because the preacher was able to sidestep the need to study homiletics, it was concluded that for him preaching was an intuitive art/craft.