Revista Studii Teologice


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"Predicarea eficientă. Tehnici pentru depăşirea „rezistenţei la persuasiune” a audi-toriului"

“The resistance to persuasion”. Techniques to overcome “the resistance to persuasion”

Autor(i): Petru Cristian STOIAN

Sumary: “The resistance to persuasion”. Techniques to overcome “the resistance to persuasion”
Recent Psychology studies have revealed a very important phenomenon in the delivery of an effective or persuasive sermon, i.e. “the resistance to persuasion”. This phenomenon is an instinctive gesture that every person makes whenever he or she feels that he or she is about to be persuaded. The main cause of this reaction lies in the preservation instinct. Nevertheless, resistance to persuasion can be overcome by applying certain distraction techniques, presented below:
– The sense of humour was also used by our Saviour when he ironically said about the Pharisees that they “filter out a gnat, yet swallow a camel“ (Mt 23, 23-24). Apart from irony, the specialists also recommend the use of good quality humour. This should support the Evangelic message and not just be a funny moment when the situation seems too serious. To be specific, humour can be triggered with the use of parables or anecdotes, of self-irony, or by speculating certain moments in the sermon – for example, the whimper of a child can be welcome with an ironic remark like “isn’t he eager to listen?”.
– The labelling technique, or complimenting the audience, was also used in the past by Christian orators; for example St John Chrisostom names the newly baptised “beautiful sprouts of the Church, [...] spiritual flowers, [...] Christ’s soldiers!”. Furthermore, recent communication studies prove once more its effectiveness. Psychologists have emphasized the fact that behind labelling lies the principle of liking, as it is generally friends or people who like each other that pay compliments to one another. But what is even more interesting is the fact that when you like a person you have a positive reaction to any potential requirement from that person. Most of the times, the labelling during a sermon is followed by the humbling of the preacher – for example: “but because the great gifts of the Spirit belong to great people, I am not worthy to benefit from such gifts”.
– Charismatic terms make reference to words like health, comfort, value, love etc., considered by sociologists as “catchy” words. For a sermon, such charismatic terms could be: healing or being cured, peace (of the soul), forgiveness, hope, success, courage, love etc. Effective communication inevitably makes use of certain expressions or persuasive patterns, such as: “Imagine what it would be like to leave all your cares in God’s hands”, or: “I have no intention of telling you to give up this sinful habit, but...”. The creation of images through words is aimed at stimulating the audience’s imagination, by using a more attractive description and a sensorial vocabulary. As Jerry Vinnes, the American preacher, plastically put it, “The best orator is the one who can turn the ear into an eye”.
– An honest and open attitude of the preacher, usingf a personal testimony. This technique refers mainly to expressing certain feelings that the priest-preacher encounters, or to bringing a personal testimony to the attention of the faithful. Certainly, these must support the theme of the sermon. For example, Saint Augustine confessed the following in a sermon: “I cannot express what I feel with my soul and the joy of my heart cannot be uttered by my tongue.” In modern communication, personal testimony is seen as an “intimate disclosure” that might break the resistance to persuasion, when it fulfils a few minimum conditions: it doesn’t go past common sense, and it is being said as a personal story.
– The introduction of the preacher by a person with authority. This method springs from the fact that many communication studies have proved that praise coming from a person who is not directly involved in the communication act (a third party), can create a psychological advantage for the person who is about to speak. For example, an American preacher has been introduced like this: “Today we have here with us a person who will change our lives. He will give us hope, a new personal respect and the power to live a dynamic life [...]. Meeting this Person is as if the rivers of our lives would come together and flow in the same direction. You will experience freedom, joy and enthusiasm in your lives.” Then, the woman who was making the introduction stopped, smiled and said: “The name of this Person is Jesus Christ, and here is a certain Lloyd Ogilvie who will tell us about Him”.

Pagini: pp. 135-148