Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wordling check on expository sermons.

Bloggers at the moment seem to be fascinated by Wordles.

I thought this might be a good way to do a rough check on an expository sermon as to whether the sermon hits the same themes as the text....

Here's the wordle of my sermon from Mark 4:35-5:43 on Sunday

Here's the wordle of the ESV text that I preached from:

Mmmn, had I made death bigger than Jesus in the sermon, when it doesn't even appear on the wordle of the text? I don't think so! I think that the whole text is about Jesus authority over the realm of death, and so many of the other words on the text world (unclean, tombs, afraid, shackles, chains, disease, demon-possessed, dead, blood) are about death, our fear of it and the shadow it casts.

Wordles are interesting, but if we just look for the biggest words, we might fail to see the whole atmosphere that is created by a text with groups of words that are associated with one big theme. The word at the centre of the theme doesn't appear in this text until the very end - the death of Jairus' daughter.


Paul Rees said...

Dear Mike,

Email me your UK phone number/new contact email - would love to give you a call and hear how you are finding re-entry into British life!

Paul Rees

Doug Smith said...


Not that I consider Wordle a serious exegetical tool (I know it's more of a toy), but I have thought about using the Wordle thing for an initial observation of the text - repetition of key words. But it is a great reminder that one can miss the forest for the trees if not taking other factors into consideration, such as synonymns and other indications of a theme in the context.

May God bless you as you share His Word.

Doug Smith