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. Haynes III seems to have such a rapid delivery and he is definitely an accomplished preacher in the Black Preaching Tradition, but I would tend to agree with Mitchell’s thesis that most black preachers “take their time” in the speed of their delivery.

Mitchell notes that the rate is “measured to increase comprehension.” In addition Mitchell believes that this comprehensive is holistic, he states:

The Fundamental significance of the slow rate is impact on the whole person: on cognitive, intuitive, and emotive consciousness. (Black Preaching, 96)

Mitchell sees that the Negro Spiritual “Lord I want to be a Christian in my heart” mirrors the Black Preaching Tradition, or the tradition mirrors the spiritual. This is because of its few words, delivered slowly with much repetition.

Mitchell closes the section by saying:

The slow rate of Black preaching, as well as repetition, is the natural pattern of Black speaking and singing , neither of which is prone to depend on great numbers of words or abstract thought.

Mitchell is not arguing that there is not much content, only as stated above, that the content is holistic affecting the whole person.

Appropriating it for your Preaching

There are some preachers who say way too much in a sermon. The Black Preaching Tradition can help to drive home that one idea that you are trying to teach. Instead of giving a ton of ideas, think of your main one, and just slowly give it and repeat it in various ways. But like all these stylistic components of the Black Preaching Tradition, always be true to the individual that God made you to be as you holistically present the Gospel.

1 thought on “Slow Delivery and Repetition

  1. Spencer L. Miller says:

    This reminds me of the late Rev. C. A. W. Clark, he would always start off his sermons with something that would almost sound like a disclaimer. He would say, “Please excuse me, but I’m old and I’m slow” after which he would preach no longer than 15 minutes but by then everyone in the house would be on their feet in celebration. I studied closely his mannerisms and his deliveries, and concluded that a good sermon involves structure and extremely careful thought which would be difficult for a few of us should we utilize as you mentioned a rapid delivery. If you can, watch a video of Dr. Clark preaching his “Preacher in a Basket” sermon and then observe his slow take off and how immensely structured the sermon is.

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