Speaking Their Language: Leveraging Ethnographic Principles in Order to Proclaim the Word Through Culturally Appropriate Methods Open Access

Morgan, Andy (Spring 2021)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/tt44pp06p?locale=en


This paper seeks to address the intersection of proclamation and cultural translation in the preaching moment. While we may think that translation in the context of preaching is relegated to the parsing and rendering of ancient languages, this paper suggests that the preacher must translate their encounter with God’s Word in the culturally conditioned language of and for their community of faith. By utilizing the proposed Embodied Cultural Lexicon Apparatus, the preacher will have the opportunity to assess communication effectiveness, deeply listen for cultural language nuance, and ultimately be equipped with the images, communication preferences, and language to most accurately translate the preacher’s encounter with God’s Word during their interpretation for the preaching moment. The Embodied Cultural Lexicon Apparatus leverages theological reflection methods as well as ethnographic principles to allow the preacher to better understand their culture. This paper with further argue that all communities of faith deserve this level of consideration to communication preference by illumining research to suggest that all congregations are multi-cultural, despite the appearance of superficial homogeneity. This paper will further explore the role of the Holy Spirit, revelation, and the role of the preacher to their congregation. 

Table of Contents


Statement of Problem

Fountain City Presbyterian Church Demographics

Exploring Cultural Language and Localized Theology

Preaching as Community Sustaining Translation

Awareness of Culture

Learning the Language of the Community

New and Familiar -Localizing the Eternal Word

Can You Hear Me Now? - Assessing Communication Effectiveness in Preaching

The "Cutting Room Floor” Class as a Virtual Trial 

The “Cutting Room Floor Class” Observations and Outcome

Apparatus Description – The Embodied Cultural Lexicon Immersion Apparatus

Apparatus Format 

Anticipated Outcome


About this Dissertation

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files