Multiple Perspectives

And His Name Was the WordOverview

This structure utilizes the technique of offering the hearers multiple points of view in order to unfold the full meaning of an event.  The sermon begins from one particular point of view and relates the teaching or the event from that particular point of view.  Then, the sermon moves to another point of view and relates the same teaching or event from a new perspective.  The shifts in perspective allow the hearers to move more fully into an understanding of precisely what the teaching or the event is and what the significance of that event is for all of those involved.  Variations include the use of unreliable or untrustworthy narrators (for example, having Judas describe the anointing of Jesus at Bethany), but by the end of the sermon, the hearers should have both a clear understanding of what is being considered as well as an appreciation of the fullness of its significance for a variety of people.

In using the multiple perspective form, the preacher will want to make sure that each perspective leaves hearers in a situation where they are in need of more information.  That is, the preacher does not want the sermon to “end” with complete closure after the first perspective is offered.  There should be something about the topic or the story that slowly leads the hearers forward to hear the story again from a different perspective until finally the last perspective brings the sermon to a close.  The characters should not be able to be rearranged and each character should take the hearers forward toward the culmination of the sermon.  The key to the sermon’s progression lies in the slow disclosure of the point or the main event of the sermon.

In moving from character to character, the preacher may also move in time.  Thus, the sermon could lead the hearers from reflections of a character in the story to the reflections of the biblical author recording the story and finally to the reflections of a hearer today.  In some situations, verses of hymns have been used in between the characters to reinforce the sense that the sermon is composed of a series of perspectives that all work together in proclaiming an event or a teaching of the faith.  When communicating the perspectives of various characters, the preacher may use either first person or third person narration.

© 2011 David Schmitt. All rights reserved.

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