The Quality of African American Preaching today. : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Concerning the quality of preaching in our churches. In African American church history, the hoop style of preaching have had great success. In preaching, I personal like the emotional experience coupled with good teaching. However, often times Iím concerned that our people associate good preaching more with a hoop and a holler, than with good sound teaching. My question is, how relevant and effective is the hoop style of preaching today in the African American experience? And is it more or less effective with persons born after 1965?

-- Anonymous, December 03, 2000


Interesting question. I think there are congegations in our connection that are moving away from the hoop, and more toward the "meat", if you will. But I don't think it's a monolithic movement. Many of our congregations still live for the "preaching moment", and value the hoop as part of that expression.

I am reminded of an expression I heard from older preachers as I was coming up: "Start low, build slow, move higher, strike fire, retire." What concerns me about some of the preaching today is that steps two and three seem to be omitted. SOme of of preachers are relying on what they think is the fire, but they haven't moved higher first.

The hoop is not the only classical form of expression in the black tradition. Great preachers like Samuel Proctor Gardner Taylor Caesar A.W. Clark, didn't necessarily rely on a hoop. BUt they did practice regular, sound exegisis and exposition. For them, the Preaching Moment bordered on art, their words merely paints as they elaborated the canvas of the chosen text.

We are fortunate to have such great preachers in our midst still. Today, their names are Adams, Bryant, Kirkland, McKenzie. I'm sure many of you can add a few more.

-- Anonymous, December 03, 2000

Good preaching is the glorious declaration of the word of God which lifts ones emotions and convicts one of the sinful aspects in ones life. The "hooping style" of preaching may or may not accomplish this goal. If it leads an individual to salvation and then encourages one to grow spiritually by studying the bible and participating in spiritual activities then it is quite all right. Personally, I have been educated more in the past 15 years about the christian life by listening to a minister named Dr. Charles Stanley who can been seen on every television station in this country by viewing his ministry program called IN TOUCH. He preaches sermons which can be summarized in one sentence. His ministry also has a constant theme of submitting ones freewill to the holy spirit so that God's personal will for ones life can be accomplished. He also encourages christian people to read their bibles from cover to cover. The hoop style of preaching has helped strengthen our faith and has been a source of inspiration. However, our ministers need to pressure us to pray without ceasing and pray for personal submission to the holy spirit and to study the bible. Our biggest problem in the church is as Hosea said " my people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge".


-- Anonymous, December 04, 2000

I agree with what you say about the whooping/hollering style of preaching which gets folks emotionally high, but is often void of much content. I try to listen for content and even take notes during sermons. Quite often I hear people comment about good sermons and my note page has just a few lines. Maybe the problem is within myself, but when I follow up by asking for some key points, I get blank stares or comments such as, "I'm not too sure, but he sure preached."

I, too, love Dr. Stanley - whose rapid fire, but easy to listen to, delivery provides a lot of content within his messages. I also enjoy D James Kennedy, Adrian Rogers (sp), and David Jeremiah - note: some of these are more teaching rather than preaching minisries. Also, esp. on the cable channels, there's an increasing number of non- whooping black ministers delivering solid messages. Sorry, I don't really know their names, but I have seen several.

-- Anonymous, December 07, 2000

The presumption for some is that hooping and cerebral sermons are tradeoffs. I contend that the tradeoff is completely unnecessary. The former is a matter of style while the latter addreses the issue of substance. If you have ever had the pleasure of listening to the current "Mt. Rushmore" of black preachers- Bishop John Bryant, A. Louis Patterson, H. Beecher Hicks or the incomparable Rev. Donald Parsons, you will discover excellence in both hermeneutics and histrionics. QED

-- Anonymous, December 08, 2000

Thanks for these great responses. I aggree that there are great preachers that do not have to "hoop" to be effective. However no one have addressed rather or not there is a distinction of what people born after 1965 need in the form of preaching compared to those borned before 1965. In other words, is the "hoop" more relevant for the older generation?

-- Anonymous, December 08, 2000

In the best of black preaching, there is no war between style and substance, emotion and exegesis, hooping and homiletics. Your questions reveals that you like a balance between "emotional experience and good teaching." Historically, African-Americans have looked for an anointed, authentic synthesis of both soul AND sense in the personality and presentation of the preacher. Different communities and congregations, doctrines and denominations have emphasized different flavors and blendings of the two. Before 1965, there may have been more congregational extremes. For example on once extreme some churches--often those with the least assimilation into the dominant Euro-centric culture--specialized in preachers with less education who majored in a hoop and minored in exposition. On the other extreme, there were churches--often with middle class constituencies--whose preachers did their best to act as white as possible, while showcasing quotations of german theologians to demonstrate their ability to master western culture. However, there were ALWAYS a large body of well-trained ministers who delivered classical 3-point sermons with their own mode of climactic celebration in the end . . . perhaps in the form of a tune, hoop, holler, or song. Though some believe that the hoop is one the way out, I believe that it will remain as a rich part of the black preaching tradition . . . Even the most "bourgeoisified negro" would be blown away by the content, artistry, and power of someone on the order of Caesar Clark in his prime. And based upon natural talent and spiritual giftings, some will hoop and some will not, but a good hoop will move any African-American church. A further prediction--white preachers will begin to steal the hoop if we loose it. Notice the Rod Parsely's and others who have incorporated black rhetorical and oratorical styles. I agree with Henry Mitchell that in the black community, if a preacher doesn't have a good hoop, he must have something to substitute for it. In the classic phenomenology of black worship, the rhythmic and melodic rap under the anointing of the Holy Spirit was the ultimate conclusion for

-- Anonymous, February 26, 2001

For years I have tarried with the hoop and hollering style of certain pastors of this and past generations. I have time and time again sat and watched as Pastors started out teaching the word of God only to end up screaming and yelling a bunch of catch phrases that went nowhere. I am not talking about a Pastor who may get louder to bring home a point to a lesson, but the one who is literally screaming and yelling expecting his congregation to receive God's word. Somebody please show me where Jesus hollered and screamed to those that He taught. We as Pastors are suppose to be imitating Christ. We are to teach in love. Another factor is that God's word is simple enough for a child to comprehend. What do you think is going through the mind of a child as he hears and sees this so-called man of God yelling and screaming at him to be saved? Is this actually effect in winning souls to Christ. I know for me all the screaming and hollering is a definite turn off. I come into the house of the Lord to be taught a word so that I can be better equipped to minister a word

-- Anonymous, October 14, 2002

I think that the hoop" style in preaching by the black preacher is a part of our heritage,and it serves(the hoop) as a dominant hook in closing the message preached.It encourages and leaves the congegation with a sense of being a part of that message because it calls for participation by talking back to and encouraging him to take the conclusion of the message to a highe level.It is that the message of the word of GOD is the "meat" and the "hoop" is the gravy,and every cook knows that good meat makes it own "GRAVY"A note of caution though,the preacher who attempts to close a message must be sure that the "meat" he is trying to present to GOD'S people must be prepared using the recipe that GOD gives.

-- Anonymous, February 25, 2003

When the word of God is rightly preached and administred, I think one may find him or herself excited at the wonderous works of a mighty and an awesome God. As a man of God who has had the opportunity from time to time to proclaim the gospel message, I can fully understand the celebratory nature of the African American homiletic. It is my prayer that all men and women who stand in John's shoes take the responsibility seriously and remain faithful to his or her calling knowing that the people need to see, feel hear and come to understand Jesus in their proclamation.

-- Anonymous, February 25, 2003

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