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1.1 Background to the Study

Recently, the study of Pentecostal sermons, especially from language perspective has generated interest among many linguists because of the way language is creatively deployed for rhetorical impact. Pentecostal sermons operate through language, and language is the only tangible vehicle to access knowledge “hidden” in the sermons. Language therefore is a powerful tool that influences behaviour (Austin, 1962; Searle, 1975).

Unlike prayers and songs (which are in most cases addressed to God), Pentecostal sermons, just like other sermons are primarily addressed to the audience. This creates an avenue for the exploration of the linguistic resources the speakers deploy for rhetorical impact and its persuasive value on the audience.

More so, unlike the sermons of the mainline churches which are generally considered as more reserved in style and with less congregational response, Pentecostal sermons are „charismatic‟ in nature because of the way and manner their linguistic resources are stretched for the extension of meaning. This justifies its study. Since Pentecostal sermons operate through the vehicle of language, they provide a clear piece of an evidence where rhetorical language is seen in action.

Pentecostal language therefore is creative enough for audience persuasion. Lawless (1988) avers that there is something distinctive and colourful about Pentecostal sermons in terms of their capacity to change minds, their language delivery and their pragmatic use of language. Lawless‟ argument derives from his insight of the sermons as having the capacity to persuade, especially to the believers and non-believers alike who are inspired by their unique language delivery. What this implies is that the way some Pentecostal sermon preachers deploy language resources to persuade, in addition to how they „stretch‟ other linguistic resources for the extension of meaning is consistent with this viewpoint. The argument above provides the focus of interest in this study.


Pentecostalism is a conservative branch of Christianity (Kalu, 2008); however, its language use, as seen in the Pentecostal sermons is unique because of the way the language resources are tailored for persuasion. Although Pentecostalism started among the poor (Zibechi, 2008), its history shows that it is a strain of Christianity that grew mainly out of the holiness movement (Kalu, 2008).

According to Lawless (1988), Pentecostalism is a modern charismatic movement within Christianity which places emphasis on a direct personal experience with God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This view is supported by McGee (1991), Synan (1997), Hollenweger (1997) and Martin (2002). The central belief in Pentecostalism is that through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, sin is forgiven and humanity is reconciled with God. What this means is that the individual must be born again.

The new birth is received by the grace of God that is offered through faith in Christ, and acceptance of him as personal Lord and Saviour (Oyakhilome, 2004). As a born again, the believer is regenerated, justified, adopted into the family of God, and sanctified. Pentecostals believe strongly in the authority of the Bible, and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal saviour.

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They also believe in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as an experience separate from conversion, and it is this view that enables the Christian to live a Holy Spirit-filled and empowered life. According to Basham (1969:10), “The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a second encounter with God (the first is conversion) in which the Christian begins to receive the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit into his life.” Empowerment implies spiritual strength, speaking in tongues as well as divine healing. Basset (2006) asserts that “Pentecostalism emphasises a post-conversion experience of supernatural purification and empowering for Christian witness-entry into which is signalled by utterance in unknown tongues.

Several studies have characterised the language use of Nigerian Pentecostals; highlighting the peculiarities. Onoja (2010) in examining the stylistic features employed by Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church, in his sermon titled ‘‘Operating in the Supernatural’’, identifies the use of complex sentences, register, diction, anaphora, repetition, archaisms, tone and rhetorical questions as the stylistic resources that mark the language of sermon from every day or conventional speech forms. His work was simply to inform non-Christians of peculiar ways Christians use language.

Discourse analysis, as one of the core areas of functional linguistics has contributed and is still contributing significantly to the understanding of language use above the sentence level. However, in spite of the tremendous effects of discourse analysis, its application has been limited to some aspects of the society or language use like text analysis, political discourse, classroom discourse, doctor-patient discourse etc., and by extension, this can be applied and greatly utilized in the understanding of religious texts in which the long essay intends to do and provides some illuminations into though conspicuous, but at the same time hidden.

Although different rulers of the world in the past have tried to obliterate any form of religious belief but ironically, religion has „outlived‟ them. They had gone, buried and even rotten in the graves but religion has continued to thrive boundlessly. Since human nature is dual, in the sense that, the composition of human beings is both good and evil (Genesis 3:22), religion cannot be said to be completely free of its attendant negative connotations. This has snowballed into different religious crises in the whole world in general and particularly in Nigeria and the aftermath of these crises is inexpressible.

Sermons have been described as planned, formal speeches and public discourses that are a form of religious expression in the church (Longere, 1982; Larsen, 1989). Sermons are basically a persuasive discourse for preachers do not seek primarily to transmit knowledge but to transform persons and to call for modification of behaviour. The persuasiveness of religious discourse and the central goal of the preacher calls for his use of what Burton (1997) describes as ‘ornamentation’.

In his study of two sermons by Neal Maxwell, Burton points out that communication as serious as religion needs sufficient ornamentation to engage the listener. Burton further opines that if the matter were stated ‘baldly’ it would not have a motivating effect on the hearer. Thus, an understanding of the workings of language in one of the major religions in the Nigeria, which is Christianity, is the focus of this research work. It is on this background that this research work seeks to examine stylistic analysis on some selected sermons of Pastor William Kumuyi

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The ways in which language is used in the religious context have continued to draw the attention of linguists. Religion, being a crucial aspect of any society, has always played and will continue to play an influential role in the society. Nations have gone to war at the instance of religion, peace treaties have been contracted on the platform of religion – all made possible by language use in religious practices.

When language use is examined, emphasis is placed on style, and style is dependent on context. Onoja (2010) notes that language style is usually brought to the fore if it is intrinsically and consciously examined in relation to the society in which language is used. Notable also is the observation that religion is at the core of communication; that is, in the sense that everything done in the practice of religion is in an effort to communicate either between mankind and the Supreme Being or among individuals.

1.3 Purpose of the study

This main Purpose of this study will be to investigate the stylistic analysis on some selected sermons of Pastor William Kumuyi. The objectives are:

(i) to reveal how Pastor W.F Kumuyi construct their messages;

(ii) to identify prominent discursive/stylistic features in Pastor W.F Kumuyi messages

 (iii) to show how these features help to effectively project the intended meanings.

1.4 Research Question

The following research questions will be raised to guide the study

  1. How does Pastor W.F Kumuyi construct their messages?
  2. What are the prominent stylistic features found in Pastor W.F Kumuyi messages?
  3. How does these features help to effectively project the intended meanings in his massage?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The importance of style in any given write-up cannot be underestimated and this research work will be significant in the following ways:

  1. First, it will contribute to the growing explorations on the interface between language and style.
  2. It will also explore how a linguistic framework can help us in understanding biblical sermons

iii. It will also reveal how literature can tell us about stylistic structure and function

  1. It will also obviously contribute to our knowledge on the link between literature and style in academic disciplines.
  2. It will serve as a mail stone for other researcher on stylistic this research is hence important because its findings will be significant in the understanding of Christian religious discourse particularly the bible study.

1.6 delimitation of the study

Particularly, the focus will be delimited to concentrate solely on the understanding of the sermons of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry by using linguistic tools to unravel it

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1.8 Definition of Terms

Sermons:  A sermon is an oration or lecture by a preacher or other member of clergy. Sermons address a scriptural, theological, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law, or behavior within both past and present contexts. Elements of the sermon often include exposition, exhortation, and practical application

Style: a method of textual interpretation in which primary of place is assigned to language”. This shows that language is the key point in stylistic because a writer employs various forms and patterns of language while presenting his message.



This chapter shall be discussed under the following sub-heading

2.1 Background Knowledge on Pastor W. F. Kumuyi

2.1.1 History of Deeper Christian Life Ministry

2.2 The Concept of Stylistics

2.3 Language and Style

2.4 Religious Discourse

2.4 Empirical Reviews

2.5 Theoretical Framework: The theory for this research work will be Halliday’s (1985) Systemic functional linguistics theory.



3.1 Research Methodology

This research will be based on library research; the primary source of information will be from Select Sermons by Pastor W. F. Kumuyi. The research shall also investigates secondary sources in the form of existing literature in several fields, books, magazines, e-journals, articles, newspapers, presentations, lectures, and unpublished works. The Library and the Internet will also be consulted for relevant data for this study.

3.2 Data Collection

The data for this study were gathered from the Monday Bible Study of the Deeper Life Campus Fellowship OAU, Ile Ife chapter – an arm of Deeper Christian Life Ministry – for a period of three years (June, 2020 – June, 2022) and the church website. The messages that served the data for this study were preached by Pastor Kumuyi and transmitted live via the satellite and copies of the Bible Study Outlines were distributed which the researcher stored for the purpose of this study. Therefore, three (3) copies of the gathered data have been randomly and purposely selected for analysis.

3.3 Justification of Data Selection

We will restrict the data for the study to three (3) copies of the sermons selected randomly from June 2020 till June, 2022. The selected copies will be qualitative and quantitative representative having covered a period of 2 years. This selection is justified by the limited time frame available for the completion of the research and to ensure that a thorough analysis is done.



The analysis of the sermons will be carry out under the following sub-heading

  • Speech Acts Analysis
  • Assertive
  • Commissives
  • Directives
  • Expressive
  • Graphological Analysis
  • Layout of the Texts
  • Capitalisation
  • Phonological Analysis
  • Lexical Connective Devices
  • Synonymy
  • Antonymy
  • Lexical Repetition
  • Grammatical Connective Devices
  • Substitution
  • Ellipsis
  • Conjunction
  • Structural Parallelism




The referencing of this work shall be done using APA style (8th edition)

Mr. Harrison

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