For her graduate thesis at Ball State University, Muncie, Ind., Tracy Paschke-Johannes set out to study the persuasion techniques female Lutheran clergy use in their preaching. "I looked for themes and common usage of persuasion ... any phrase or words used to change a person's thoughts or actions," she said.
Paschke-Johannes used sermons from male Lutheran clergy as a control group. She used the Web to collect 15 sermons from each group. Her findings include:
• Women who used repetition used it often. One woman used it 50 times during her sermon (women 99; men 54).
• Men twice as often explained how God, Jesus or the Spirit relates to a real-world situation (women 26; men 53).
• Women (36) were more apt to preach about their own struggles or tell something funny about themselves (men 23).
• Women (20) were twice as likely as men (8) to tell jokes, make sarcastic comments or share funny stories about their children.
• Only five prayers were found in the sermons--three at the beginning and two at the end (women 3; men 2).
• Men twice as often discussed a Greek root meaning, etc. (women 13; men 27).
• More than twice as many women (18) as men (7) summarized the Gospel reading or reminded listeners of important parts. Women (84) were also more apt to interpret what they think the text means (men 55).
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