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Performance in Preaching: Bringing the Sermon to Life

Format: Digital
ISBN: 9780801036132


This volume takes a unique approach by examining the role of performance in preaching. The contributors bring a variety of theological and denominational perspectives to the subject, but they are united in their concern for the importance of the performance of the sermon—not in a shallow or theatrical sense but as an essential aspect of bringing God’s Word to life for the congregation. To that end, these wide-ranging studies examine theological, artistic, and music aspects of a compelling performance.

The Logos edition of this work on preaching is fully searchable and easily accessible. Scripture passages link directly to your English translations and to the original language texts, and important theological concepts link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and the wealth of resources in your digital library.

Key Features

  • Analyzes the role of performance in preaching
  • Features a variety of denominational perspectives
  • Emphasizes performance for theological rather than theatrical importance


  • “The Truth and Truthfulness: Theological Reflections on Preaching and Performance,” by Marguerite Shuster
  • “Preaching, Performance, and the Life and Death of ‘Now,’” by Paul Scott Wilson
  • “At the Intersection of Actio Divina and Homo Performans: Embodiment and Evocation,” by Alyce M. McKenzie
  • “Performative Language and the Limits of Performance in Preaching,” by John M. Rottman
  • “Reversal of Fortune: The Performance of a Prophet,” by Mary Donovan Turner
  • “Performance and the New Testament in Preaching,” by Ronald J. Allen
  • “The Use of the Body in the Performance of Proclamation,” by Todd Farley
  • “Finding Voice in the Theological School,” by Richard F. Ward
  • “The Preacher’s Creative Process: Reaching the Well,” by Jana Childers
  • “What Comes Next? Performing Music and Proclaiming the Word,” by Clayton J. Schmit
  • “The Musicality of Black Preaching: Performing the Word,” by William C. Turner Jr.
  • “Performance Study in Service to the Spoken Word in Worship,” by Charles L. Bartow

Praise for the Print Edition

Two of our finest teachers of preaching here collaborate on an invigorating book for preachers. Jesus doesn’t mean for us to think about the Gospel, even to understand the Gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is meant to be enacted, embodied, and performed. Childers and Schmit show us how we preachers can better enable our listeners to not only hear but also perform the Gospel. One of the best books on the craft of preaching that we’ve had in a long time.

Will Willimon, bishop, North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church

Every preacher wants the sermon to not only say something but also do something. This book will tell you how! Two consummate performers of the Word themselves, Jana Childers and Clayton Schmit have assembled the leading figures in the field of performance studies—ranging from theology to dramaturgy to musicology—and have produced a book like no other. It will bless preachers and those who listen to preaching for a long time to come.

—Richard Lischer, James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor of Preaching, Duke Divinity School

Jana Childers and Clayton Schmit have done students, preachers, and homileticians a great service with this book. For too long our preaching has been captive to the mind/body dualisms of modern thought. Performance in Preaching provides a rich variety of stimulating essays in conversation with the work of Charles Bartow, showing that both the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of our sermons serve the Spirit’s work of bringing the incarnate Word to speech.

—Michael Pasquarello III, Granger E. and Anna A. Fisher Professor of Preaching, Asbury Theological Seminary

Mention the words ‘preaching’ and ‘performance’ in the same sentence and some in the church get nervous. This helpful volume proves that such nervousness is unwarranted. Yes, preaching must be sincere, free of forced theatrics or any whiff of the pastor’s merely ‘putting on a show.’ But these essays remind us that pastors must bring the Word to life by paying attention to their delivery of that Word as the Holy Spirit uses vocal chords, cadences, rhythms, and the preacher’s entire body to help the Word of God become flesh and blood Sunday after Sunday. Preachers take note: God has called the entirety of your being into the service of proclaiming the Word, and this fine book will challenge you to remember that each and every Sunday!

—Scott Hoezee, director, The Center for Excellence in Preaching, Calvin Theological Seminary

Product Details

About the Editors

Jana Childers is professor of homiletics and speech communication at San Francisco Theological Seminary. She is the author of Performing the Word: Preaching as Theatre.

Clayton J. Schmit is provost of the School of Theology at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. An ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, he is the author of Too Deep for Words: A Theology of Liturgical Expression.