I was talking to a Black preacher the other day about great Black preachers and Black preaching. This preacher then began to talk about some of the big media preachers and how he is attempting to emulate their style. This preacher even called one of these media preachers a genius. I asked him what was so appealing about the preacher. He mostly talked about the style of the preacher.
Henry Mitchell’s book Celebration and Experience in Preaching provides 2 very important sermonic structural components that can guide the preacher in structuring Black Sermons. The first component is celebration.
Henry Mitchell notes that these two features of Black Preaching Style are not as dominant as other ones. Mitchell notes that aphorisms are common in all traditions of preaching, but aphorisms or “clever, pithy statements.”
As we continue our series on Black Preaching Style, Henry Mitchell notes that a slower rate of vocal speed is usually used when presenting Black sermons. He notes that there are those who do have rapid fire delivery. Dr. Frederick D.
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.
As Henry Mitchell notes in his book Black Preaching: The recovery of a lost art, African American preachers often engage in a sermon that is “story telling.” sometimes they even change into the character that they are preaching and preach a first person story.
Call and Response is one of the central components of Black preaching. The congregational participation is so important that many preachers subconsciously pause to leave room for the congregation to respond.
Black preachers sometimes use the sound of words to make a rhythm. Sometimes this might be a pause for breath. Sometimes the very taking of the breath will make a noise that is a part of the rhythm. Sometimes even the organist joins in with the rhythm.
Now I am going to begin a series of posts on Black Preaching style. This will go on for a while often interrupted by other posts. In this first one I look at Mannerisms that Henry Mitchell describes in his book Black Preaching: The Recovery of a Powerful Art.