Must Reads Classics - Homiletic Moves and Structures by David Buttrick

by Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence on Thursday, June 15, 2023

In this interview, Dr. David Schnasa Jacobsen, Bishops Scholar in Homiletics and Preaching, and Director of the Homiletical Theology Project at Boston University School of Theology, talks about his professor, David Buttrick, and his influential book "Homiletic Moves and Structures" published in 1987.


Jacobsen points out Buttrick's unique approach to turning to the listener, which was a significant aspect of the New Homiletic movement of the 1970s and 80s. Buttrick believed in a pluralistic approach to listeners and emphasized that they were not confined to church culture alone but were part of a wider culture.

One of Buttrick's key contributions was the concept of "moves" in preaching. Each move, lasting around three to three and a half minutes, had clear signs at the beginning and end, forming the basic modules of a sermon. This approach helped the congregation follow along.

The discussion also touches on the different sermon shapes Buttrick identified: preaching in the mode of immediacy, reflection, and praxis. These modes represent different approaches to preaching and enable the preacher to engage with the text, reflect on it, and delve into human situations.

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