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Channels of Listening series is a four-volume series of homiletical resources designed to help preachers understand the factors that influence how sermons are heard and perceived and how preachers can use this information to preach more effective sermons. The series is the result of an in-depth study conducted by ten leading homileticians. Each book in the series focuses on a major finding of the study and offers practical implications for preaching.
Many preachers long to understand the dynamics of thought, feeling, and behavior at work in congregations. They use many techniques to evaluate the needs of their congregation and to sharpen their sermons, but preachers seldom give members of their congregation the opportunities to identify qualities of preaching that motivate them to engage sermons, and qualities of sermons that prompt disengagement. This book draws on one of the first large scale attempts in North America to do just that. Drawing on extensive interviews and analysis based on traditional rhetorical categories derived from Aristotle-the listener's perception of the character, personality and trustworthiness of the preacher (ethos), the appeals to reason in the content of the sermon (logos), and the role of feeling in the event of preaching (pathos)-the authors present case illustrations to help preachers listen pastorally to their own parishioners, to understand how their listeners' participation in the sermon is affected by the ethos, logos, and pathos, and how the pastor can use this understanding to preach in ways that engage listeners. Pastors are encouraged to compare and contrast their own perceptions of preaching with those expressed by their parishioners and to reflect more broadly and deeply about preaching in the preacher's own congregational setting.