Date of Award

Fall 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thorn, William

Second Advisor

Garner, Ana

Third Advisor

Pauly, John J.


We know little about communication in Pentecostal worship service outside of the practice of tongues-speech. Pentecostals uniquely interpret communicative activity as distinctive factors in their identity; yet no research identifies the unique national speech codes operating with the Pentecostal churches. This study applied decreased that knowledge gap using Philipsen's Speech Codes Theory to analyzing the structure and interpretation of Pentecostal worship services, analyzing individual congregations in relationship with local culture and situated within the national Pentecostal movement. Fisher's narrative paradigm was applied to worship services to describe the narrative of a worship service as it extended in the everyday lives of worshipers. The Pentecostal speech community, a subculture within Christianity, has worship services marked by a free flowing structure and the nine charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12). Another dimension of Pentecostal services is the flexibility to adapt to local culture producing a strong relation to the local culture. The study explores the relationship between the speech codes within Pentecostalism and the local cultural milieu. The seminal study defines the speech codes of the Pentecostal subculture within the United States, considering regional and local factors that produce diversity within the subculture. The study discovered that worshippers extend the experience from the worship service into everyday life through the narration provided by worship.

The study used the ethnographic methods of participant observation and interviews to discover the meaning attributed to various worship activity as well as the significance for communication. An interdisciplinary approach was followed allowing the research to be built on both communication research and theological reflection.

Included in

Religion Commons