Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sermon as Narrative

Everybody loves a good story. What if every Sunday pastors stood up and told the most captivating story ever told.

[T]here is almost always a sudden change whenever the speaker launches into a narrative. The audience becomes suddenly quiet, forgetting even to cough, sniff, or squirm, as the tale is spun. When they understand that it is over (and that now the speaker will draw his moral, make important announcements, etc.), the change back to coughing, sniffing, and squirming is equally as sudden.

Actually, it hardly matters what kind of story, how good, how funny it is, how moving it is, or how well it is told. Ther is something almost automatically captivating about a story that catches our minds and makes us forget to breathe until it is over."

[The] sharp delineation between story and "regular" preaching is unnecessary. . . A sermonic idea is a homiletical bind; a sermon is a narrative plot!
G. William Jones, The Innovator, quoted in Eugene Lowry's The Homiletical Plot, p. 13, 14. (The last paragraph is Lowry's reaction.)

1 comment:

chris ridgeway said...

There's something to how I noticed this audience effect in high school theater or speech that I'll is definitely one of the foundational planks of my thoughts on preaching. (story telling...) :)

But I'm not gonna be able to go with him on how it not mattering how good it is... it definitely does. Haven't we all had the friend who is telling the story you just wish would end?

Good stories, even simply told ones, have essential elements like character, setting, and tension (plot). Lots of preachers will leave one out and turn a potentially good story into a chore to listen to...