Preaching: Mark Antony Style (1 of 5)

I was a political science major as an undergrad. I took every political rhetoric class I could. There I learned about what is considered one of the best speeches ever given. (Well, sort of given.) (Since this all comes from the pen of Shakespeare.)

Caesar has been assassinated by a group of conspirators led by Brutus. Brutus had just delivered a speech in which he claimed that the murder had been done in the name of freedom. Mark Antony takes the stage, then “un-takes” the stage. He steps off of it, and down to the level of the people. He looks at the crowd and says, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears…” and in a brilliant and creative speech, Antony turns the mob against Brutus and the other assassins.

What was so brilliant and creative about Antony’s speech? Part of it is how he started. Antony broke the barrier between him and his audience by stepping off the stage. Brutus spoke to the Romans, Antony spoke as one of the Romans. He made this clear with his opening word, “Friends…” He doesn’t demand their attention, he requests that they lend him their ears. (“C’mon, I just want to borrow them… And it’s just your ears…”)

There’s a reason Antony’s speech is considered brilliant and creative and proved to be so effective. And we need to learn to capture his brilliance and creativity for our sermons to be effective, especially in speaking to cynical, skeptical people who are far from God… We’ll talk more about this next time, until then comb your hair.

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