Document Type


Date of Award



School of Communication (SOC)

Degree Name

MA in Communication

First Advisor

Professor James W. Ward


This study identifies the determinative factors in Rev. William A. Lawson's life and ministry which influenced his preaching style. This research analyzes factors of importance to Rev. Lawson such as his family, education, religious experiences, personal tragedies, understanding the role of suffering, preaching ministry, teaching ministry, writing ministry, and influential books. A major emphasis of this research is placed on his understanding of rhetorical sensitivity. This study further evaluates major qualities exhibited in Lawson's practice of preaching. The rhetorical analysis of Lawson's practices are 1 based on personal interviews with him, as well as in-depth listening and analysis of his sermons. The examination includes Lawson's procedure of sermon preparation and his use of structural elements within the sermon. The definition of structural elements include style of preaching, use of poetic diction, use of figures of speech, use of voice, sermon arrangement, and a theology of preaching. The last portion of this research will include stylistic features present in Lawson's preaching such as his use of language and style of delivery. Style is the way a speaker uses language to express his or her thought. Many times great ideas fail to reach an audience because the use of language and the style of the message lacks beauty and clarity of expression. This research will define and use the theory of rhetorical sensitivity to show the three basic factors in Lawson's style of preaching. The three basic factors are the thought of the message, audience interpretation, and sincerity of the message. These three factors are all components of rhetorical sensitivity. The rhetorical sensitivity of a preacher is the uniqueness of the preacher's way of communicating. Rhetorical sensitivity is the mirror of the thought of the preacher's personality, natural mental gifts, training, and cultural taste.