Stumbling upon a book titled “Essential Managers: Presenting” by Aileen Pincus, I instantly grab and curiously read it. “This book will be useful” I said to myself, because I get to speak quite often at church. As I thumb through the pages, I got across something that is very essential for preachers and teachers of God’s Word. The topic was using narrative. Let me share some of it here:
Six of the most powerful words in the English language are “Let me tell you a story.” Narratives bring facts and figures into context and lift presentations out of the realm of dry tutorials. They provide a showcase for the presenter to demonstrate real passion and grasp of the issues, particularly if the narrative resonates on a personal level. Crucially, they-like no other device-will captivate the listener.
It amazed me that in corporate world, they employ this kind method to get their message across. And according to the book it will ‘captivate the listener’. But note we use narratives not to sell a product or present business charts but to present God’s enduring story. We use narratives in our Bible study or sermon to grab and penetrate its truth to the hearts believers. Nothing but a good story will get their attention and drive God’s lessons to us.
The book goes on to say:
Learn to use stories effectively, by reading and listening to accomplished storytellers.
As for Christians, there is one “accomplished storyteller” that we should learn how to use narrative effectively. And that’s Jesus Christ, the Master Storyteller. He successfully used stories (or parables) to make an important life lesson for every listener (Matthew 13:34-35). He draws illustrations from everyday activities (sowing, building, shepherding etc.,) people (laborers, rich man, Pharisees, publican, virgins etc.,) nature (vine, branches, fig-tree, cloud etc.,) and common objects (like coins, wine bottle, candles etc.) to make his stories hit the heart. And who can forget the parable of the Prodigal Son and Good Samaritan that really captured our emotions. Read His parables and see how He shared it to the people. Take time to note who are His listeners and their reactions. Look at Him for inspiration on your storytelling.
Last year, our YP/YS Fellowship had a series on Children Ministry. We want to learn to tell biblical stories and have heart for children for the gospel. We used this video to instruct our young people on how to effectively teach children about God. I discovered this from Tony Kummer’s kids’ ministry blog, “Ministry to Children”. This is kinda cute and entertaining but lots of tips on Bible storytelling mind you. Go check it for yourself. To fully utilize this video, I would advice that you read the article on that blog by following this link
I made them watch this video twice then gave them 2 minutes to give their insights. I ask them to jot 5 things they notice on the little girl’s storytelling. Everyone is up to their feet and glued to my laptop. I could sense this lesson is a blockbuster to them as I see their faces smile and the discussions they had afterwards. We learned a lot from that video.
As for me, I employ narratives or stories in the sermon that I preach. It helps the listener to set to preaching time mode, pay close attention, make them smile, thrust an important lesson and leave something to think about in the end of the message. Do you do that too?
My sources range from news reports, special features, Magazine TV shows, books, blogs, films and stuff about social media. This makes part of my message fresh, interesting and relevant. But of course, I should spend more time with the Bible meditating and asking God for a message. Those sources should not come close as to the preaching. Nothing is far more fresh, interesting and relevant as the Word of God.
Adding story in a message sometimes just comes naturally and you don’t have to watch TV 24/7 to get something to put on a sermon. Even one glance of today’s news on TV or newspaper sometimes will do. If you’re an avid reader of books or blogs it is a plus for you. Also for every preacher and teacher the needs of God’s people should be the primary objective of a message. You can skip the delightful anecdote and go straight to the matter. It will be more beneficial to the believers. Another thing is using stories are not for the reason to make your sermon likable or acceptable but to make a powerful emphasis on what God impress to your heart to preach.
How about you? How do you use narratives in your preaching or Bible lessons? In what way you get stories for your message? What are some notable reactions you get when you telling a story?
Before I end this article, I would like you to watch this video produced by The Gospel Project. Hope this inspires you to make use of narratives to exalt Christ message to everyone who listens to you.