A man telling a story to his friends

Once upon a time…

Preachers should be great storytellers.

Stories are captivating, inspiring, and memorable. Perhaps some of our greatest childhood memories are having stories read to us, and the privilege of parents, and grandparents to read stories to our children, to curl up with them, and do funny voices, and laugh along with them at the silly ones.

Preachers should be great storytellers.

The Bible, is, in effect, a story.

Jesus told stories, he was the master story teller, bar none.

When we read Jesus’ parables in particular, we ‘see’ the master at work- people were amazed at the stories Jesus told, and hung on His every word. Jesus’ stories even made people angry, so effective was He in communicating through stories.

Preachers should be great storytellers.

We, like our master, should seek to captivate, and inspire, and make God’s truths memorable through the use of story.

Quite often, preachers can ‘sterilise’ a wonderful passage of scripture, and ruin a wonderful story, to something that isnt captivating, isnt inspiring, and isnt memorable.

Quite often, we slice and dice up a passage, and divorce it from its bigger story, making it cold, and ‘dead.’

Preachers should be great storytellers.

How can we be good story tellers?

  1. Remember, that the Bible is a story- our current form of chapter and verse, is not its original format- don’t unnecessarily limit yourself to them.
  2. To use senses, and emotions- to ‘take people there…’ Whats the smell like?

If you are preaching John 12, order some nard from an aromatherapy store, and use it in the room.

What does it look like, describe the scene- how pathetic and sad the Geresanes demoniac must have looked.

Tap in to the emotion of the passage, the ‘vibe.’

The vibe of the passage, should be the vibe of the sermon, if we want it to have integrity.

If Jesus is angry at false teaching in Matthew 23, then ‘bring out the anger…’

If people are surprised at something Jesus said, ‘tap into that…make much of it…’

An integral part of our storytelling, is tapping into the emotive vibe of the material before us- don’t ruin a good story. 

  1. Practice telling stories, read books on communicating through story. Develop the art. Dissect good stories- what makes it memorable? How was it powerful?
  2. Learn to not always approach every passage the same way, don’t have a formula that must slice and dice the passage, into 3 points every week, (extra credit for clever alliteration…) Would this make a great first person talk?
  3. An illustration I like that I have heard is ‘dead bird’ preaching, and ‘live bird’ preaching. In our educated, western, Bible college context, it can be said the dominant model is ‘dead bird’ preaching- take a passage, and use theological frameworks, or chapter and verse, or looking at it subjectively- we slice and dice the passage, like it’s a dead bird, in a tray and we do an autopsy on it. Live bird preaching, is to look more at the passage in its surroundings, its story, the passage is ‘alive’ – the characters, the setting, whats it eat?, who’s around it, its ‘habitat.’ Whats the reaction? What happened next? Who was Jesus hanging out with? Where did they come from? Why do they think this way?……ask interesting questions of the story, to bring it out, make it alive.

Like we use imperatives, to lead us to application, its good to develop the ‘emotives’ to tell the story- bring out the sadness, draw out the anger, make us feel the confusion conveyed in the section we seek to teach and apply- take us there.

Preachers should be great storytellers.

Jim Mobbs