Image-based structures seek to use the cultural power of images in service to the homiletical task. While some homileticians broadly use the term image (e.g., to describe a refrain, a theme, or rhetorical trope), the following sermon structures assume that the preacher will work with actual visual artifacts (e.g., paintings, sculptures, banners, stained glass windows, architectural features, art installations, photographs . . . anything that can be displayed for the hearers). The sermon may use one or more images and these images may be visually displayed or only verbally depicted.
While it is necessary for the preacher to know what the image is, the image does not need to be displayed. The preacher can simply describe it. Visual display of the image is more powerful for the hearers but harder for the preacher to control. Verbal description is less powerful for the hearers but easier for the preacher to control.
The nature of the image, the congregational context, and the relationship of the image to the content and the function of the sermon help the preacher determine not only which structure to use but also whether the image should be only verbally depicted or also visually displayed.
Imagistic structures include:
© 2011 David Schmitt. All rights reserved.