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Knowing the Context

Frames, Tools, and Signs for Preaching (Elements of Preaching)

James R. Nieman


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While everyone might affirm that preaching needs to engage itslisteners deeply, the initial move for novice preachers is to thinkthis can be attained by livelier content and delivery of the sermon.All too quickly, however, one learns that there are many factorsbeyond what a preacher says and how she or he may say it thataffect whether proclamation can actually be heard. Effectivepreaching requires the complex work of knowing the contextin which preaching occurs, while avoiding the twin dangersof pandering to a situation's particulars or generalizing theminto stereotypes. Knowing the Context reveals how to engagecontexts for preaching, especially ways to examine contexts moreresponsibly, so that the sermon might more amply bring the wordof Scripture to bear on the worlds and lives of listeners.

In one of the initial titles in the Elements of Preaching series, James Nieman shows how preaching is oriented to specific locales, cultural situations, audiences, and occasions. Unlike other booksthat tell preachers how to preach to specific audiences, Knowingthe Context helps readers analyze the situations in which they findthemselves and shows how text and context are in a continuingdialogue and how to tailor sermons to their context. Keyed toonline sermon samples and other Web-based features to enhanceteaching.

Augsburg Fortress Publishing, 9780800662622, 104pp.

Publication Date: June 1, 2008