Thinking about preaching

We are all story tellers
Humanity has always told stories
Can a story become a sermon?
Will anyone listen to the stories I tell?

I never learned to tell stories
I never learned to build characters
A few poetic details
Yet I feel inadequite to the task

The stories seem such a risk
It is easy to tell the conclusions
How do I guide people forward?
What if they hear the story but not the moral

So I try to become a story teller
Having faith that someone will hear

Last Sunday I preached at Azalia Friends meeting. In the past, I have simply delivered the same exegetical sermons that I learned how to preach in school. Unfortunately, I am told that the exegetical style is boring — whether or not this is true, it does pre-suppose an interest in the minutia of the text. This assumption that people are intested in the Greek sentence structure and the light of historical background, and guesses on how the history and grammar shed light on the meaning of the passage. I personally find it interesting enough that I look at my Greek New Testament, but I recognize that Biblical minutia is not everyone’s passion.

Some time ago, I read that narative preaching, the art of telling stories, is becoming more popular, and exegetical preaching is becoming less popular. I still believe there is a place for exegetical preaching, however I want to learn new methods and styles so I can speak in a language that the people with me can hear what I have said.

The problem I see with a sermon style based on telling stories is that it is not always clear what the point of the story was. In addiation, there are so many lessons people can take home from these stories — as an exegetical preacher, further as a person who grew up with rules and principles, I want to come up with a conclusion that sums up the whole message, yet when I read the parables that Jesus told I realize that the narative style is both old — and part of the genius of the style is that it does not tell people what they should take home. It is so difficult to restrain myself and trust people to think about the story for themselves, I feel like I did not finish the sermon.

I do think the experment was enough of a success that I will work on learning the narative style. A workman cannot have too many tools, and this one while scary is also rather fun to use.


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