The Importance of Reflexivity in Cultivating Pastoral Preaching in Response to Communal Trauma Open Access

Burgess, Adriane (Spring 2018)

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Effective pastoral preaching in response to communal trauma requires the pastor’s personal connection in proclamation. This connection is a challenge when communal tragedies can often paralyze the pastor’s thoughts and confound emotions. The pastor can use reflexive practice to become self-aware of personal narratives, cultural worldviews, issues related to gender, race, sexual orientation, family history, spiritual injuries, theological assumptions, and more. That self-awareness will help the preacher cultivate a sermon as pastoral response. Developing a sermon does not begin with the pastor but with God’s Word for her congregation. Nonetheless, integrating reflexive practice into the theological reflection of sermon development will help pastors to both remain focused on the Good News, and appropriately use their own personal connection with the tragedy to offer authentic, pastoral preaching. I argue that using reflexivity in sermon development helps pastors share themselves in preaching that is 1) authentic, 2) theologically-centered, 3) and pastoral to congregations suffering violent communal events like mass shootings or terrorism. Additionally, four case studies offer a window into the process of reflexive preaching of pastors in the Charleston area as they offered pastoral responses to congregations in the aftermath of the Emanuel Nine mass shooting.


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