Original Research

A grounded theory approach to the analysis of sermons on poverty: Congregational projects as social capital

Hennie J.C. Pieterse
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 33, No 1 | a689 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v33i1.689 | © 2012 Hennie J.C. Pieterse | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 October 2011 | Published: 08 May 2012

About the author(s)

Hennie J.C. Pieterse, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article reported on the second cycle (selective coding) of grounded theory research of sermons on poverty in the South African context, with Matthew 25:31–46 as the sermon text. The problem which the author was researching pertained to the question: How do congregations in the Dutch Reformed Church (Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk) and the Uniting Reformed Church handle the care for the poor in practice? A theoretical sample of congregations with outreach projects to the poor and humble was drawn. After the analysis of the sermons was conducted, the next question to be addressed was: What are the categories and properties of the projects by congregations as the how of the care for the poor? New thinking on the issue of preaching on poverty is necessary because homiletic literature in this field of preaching does not address the how question. The author therefore described a theoretical framework for the interpretation of the projects, as well as an anthropological view of the communication occurring on an equal footing, with the givers in the projects functioning as social capital and the receivers (the poor and humble) as the participants with their own responsibility and freedom. The classification of the projects in categories showed that a wide variety of different types of projects to the poor have emerged from the sermons.


Projects to the poor by church congregations; social capital; the anthropological view of the receivers of help; segments of sermons; categories with properties of projects directed to the poor


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