Pastors and communicators,
One tool to put in your pocket as you prepare to speak .
After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.Rudyard Kipling
- Stories are memorable.
- Stories engage emotion.
- Stories inspire action and belief.
- Stories remind people that theyre not alone.
And if that wasnt enough
A lot of them.
He would tell stories people understood to help them grasp something they didnt understand.
Today, we wanted to give you a gift: 10 preaching stories that you can use in an upcoming message.
Weve also indexed these stories for you: including a theme, Scripture passage, and main point.
A man named Jack was driving on a dark country road one night when he got a flat tire. He saw a cabin in the woods and began to walk towards it. He told himself that the person who answered the door would be angry and irritated for the interruption. In fact, the person would probably harm him. He was probably a truly terrible person. Who else would live out in the woods away from people? Jack convinced himself that the person who lived in the cabin was a menace to society, so when the door opened, Jack punched the man in the nose and ran away.
All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast (Proverbs 15:15)
We take situations and replay them in our minds. We have conversations in our heads with people, and build a case against them, though we dont really know what they are thinking. We tend to nurse, curse, and rehearse stories like Jack. What things do you play in your heard all day? What are you meditating on? Get rid of the oppressed and wretched forecasts!
#2. ACCEPTING OTHERS
Paul Tournier was a brilliant thinker and writer, and an influential Christian therapist during his time. Doctors from around the world traveled to his home in Switzerland to learn from him. He wrote, It is a little embarrassing for students to come over and study my techniques. They always go away disappointed, because all I do is accept people.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10)
Accepting is not the same as approving, condoning, or even tolerating bad behavior. Acceptance is an act of the heart in which we recognize that, despite someones behavior, he or she has value in Gods sight, and we honor that. But this can be a hard thing to do! There are many ways to communicate acceptance to people. One of them is to listen to them with patience and compassion and receive them with love in the name of Jesus. Another is to refrain from mental condemnation and judgments, from constantly evaluating and analyzing (those things keep us from loving). We must take captive those thoughts of condemnation toward others, and submit to God. As we draw near to Him, we ask Him to love through us.
#3. KIND WORDS
Arthur Gordon was cleaning out the family home when he came across something he found to be of great value. It was a trunk full of family letters. They chronicled the events of past generations in expressions of loyalty and affection and delight that were rarely verbalized in his immediate family. One writer said, Have I told you lately what a wonderful person you are? Never forget how much your friends and family love and admire you. Another letter said, You dont know how much your visit meant to us! When you left, I felt as if the sun had stopped shining. Gordon said, I dont know what generation of my family put a check on the release of such emotions. But I do know that it seriously interferes with one of the deepest of all human needsthe desire for acceptance and approval. Why, then, wanting to hear those words so much ourselves, do we deny them so often to others?
Pleasant words are a honeycomb; sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24)
Look at the verse at the top: Pleasant words… are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Thats a lot of power, and it doesnt cost anything. Anybody can give words. Will you try it? Open your mouth and say the positive things you are thinking. Bless someone today. Use your words to bring healing and sweetness. We could all use some of that.
#4. NEGATIVE THINKING
A Trappist monk was allowed to say only two words every three years. After the first three years, he said to the Brother Superior, Bad bed. Three years later he came back to say, Bad food. After three more years of silence the monk said, No TV. Another three years passed. This time the monk appeared with robes and sandals in hand and announced, I quit. The Brother Superior answered, Its no wonder. Youve done nothing but complain since you got here!
He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin (Proverbs 13:3)
Instead of complaining, you have had to be retrained to think differently. The Bible says, Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. It also says, Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable, think on these things. It doesnt say, Try to think on these things. Would God tell us to do something that is impossible to do? You can choose what you let your mind dwell on. Battle the thoughts that dont line up with Scripture through prayer, saying Bible verses instead, and by speaking truth out loud when negativity, lies, and agreements with untruth swirl in your brain. Try it. Dont let things in your life come to ruin. Pray this verse and begin to set up guards.
#5. PASSIONATE LIVING VS. FEAR
Sarah Ban Breathnach tells of a business trip her husband took to the beach, where she and her daughter enjoyed the mornings while he attended workshops. One afternoon it was announced that there would be elephant rides for the children in the hotel parking lot. Her daughter, Katie, was delirious with excitement. Sarah told her, Life is always full of wonderful surprises if were open to them. Some mornings you get up not knowing what will happen, and you get to ride an elephant that day! When they got home, there was an invitation for Sarah to join a group of journalists on a trip to Ireland. She was tired of traveling, and not really a spontaneous person, so she told them she would probably not go. Her husband, overhearing her, said, So, youre not going to ride the elephant? She decided to go.
I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fear (Psalm 34:4).
Living passionately involves a lot of pressure and risk. I mean, what if you fall off the elephant? A writer named Ambrose Redmoon wrote: Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. You might be afraid of all kinds of things, but if one of your kids were in danger, youd be fearless. Also, dont you want to live believing that God is bigger than whatever youre afraid of? You have to make a decision to stop letting fear win: stop holding on to your blanket of insecurity and anxiety. Show up with everything God has given you, and join the battle against whatever opposes the redeeming work of God in this world. Take yourself less seriously and God more seriously!
A few years ago, a commercial on television began with a black and white clip of Lou Gehrig being honored by Yankee fans on his last day of play. His career was shortened by ALS, which is now called Lou Gehrigs disease, a debilitating muscle disease that eventually stops the heart. What would you have said in the face of this heartbreaking challenge? Amazingly, he begins: Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. How could he say that? Gratitude. Gratitude for all the gifts he had been given, for all the love he had been shown by fans, for all the opportunities he had. He focused on the joys not the losses. Thats cultivating thankfulness!
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful (Colossians 3:15)
Being thankful doesnt come easy for some of us, but God says to cultivate thankfulness. How do you cultivate anything? You work at it. You nourish it. You do whatever it takes to make it thrive. Gratitude comes from humility. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves (Henry Ward Beecher). God is good and merciful. The price that Christ paid so that you could be redeemed is immense. His grace is so amazing. You truly are the luckiest person on the face of the earth!
In her book Breaking the Power, author Liberty Savard says that she was pretty rough in her youth, but when she became a Christian, God transformed her and gave her a ministry. So she was excited to give her parents a 50th anniversary party, because it would be an opportunity to show old friends and family how she had become an amazing woman of God. She prayed that this day would reveal to everyone in her family how God can change a life. Although she lived over an hour away from the party venue, she got ready in plenty of time. One last spray to her hair to set it, and she would be off … except that she grabbed bug spray from under her sink instead of hairspray. Quickly she showered again, but now there was no time to do her hair. She hopped in her car, and it wasnt long before she realized it was overheating. She turned off the air conditioning but still, something was wrong. She had to keep adding transmission fluid every few miles. She got to the party a tiny bit latefrizzy hair, oily hands, red face. She would just take a few moments to freshen up. However, there was a problem! In the heat her large jar of face cream had exploded and everything in her overnight bag, including makeup and hair brush and hair spray, was covered in white goop. Her only option was to just go out and enjoy the party. There was nothing else she could do. She determined to have a great time and laugh anyway! Later she told God she had covered the day with prayer, and it felt like it all had gone terribly wrong. She had wanted to make such a good impression. She felt like God said, Most of your family and friends remember how angry you used to be. They may never hear your testimony, but they saw living proof today of My power to change a life by the way that you handled this situation with humor and grace. I answered your prayers. Well done, daughter.
Be joyful always. Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Anybody can be joyful when things go well. Sometimes God stirs things up so that, through our responses, we can showcase His transforming grace and joy.
#8. DISCIPLESHIP/BELIEVING IN PEOPLE
Writer Katie McCabe described her mentor, Charles Savedge, as a man who changed a room simply by walking into it. He believed so completely in his many students and colleagues that we had no choice but to believe in ourselves. Inspired, encouraged, and challenged by her mentor, McCabe wrote that, even though it was fifteen years later, everything she did was an attempt to find the person he saw in her.
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae. Receive her in the Lord as saints ought to receive one another. And help her in whatever matter she may require assistance from you, for she has been a helper of many, including myself [shielding us from suffering] (Romans 16:1-2)
Open your eyes and look for a person who needs a little time, a little friendship, and a little faithsomeone to whom you can give the gift of being a mentor or a supportive friend. Is there a person in your life who would be encouraged if you let them know that you believe in them? Its easy to get self-consumed and run over by our to-do lists. And its easy to make excuses if we feel we arent well-versed enough in spiritual matters to mentor others. But in this Scripture, the Apostle Paul commends someone who helped others and gave them hope. All of us are capable of that.
#9. BEING FAITHFUL
In the book Second Calling, Dale Bourke writes that years ago, she attended a conference. When it was over, her friend Bruce offered her a ride to the airport. As they were about to leave, another man asked if he could join them. As they drove away from the hotel, she and Bruce asked the man where he worked, and he mentioned a Christian organization. Bruce said, I have fond memories of that group, because I attended a retreat of theirs one time, and thats where I became a Christian. It was in 1972 in New Hampshire. Bruce went on to explain that eventually his whole family became Christians and went into Christian work. His sister was a Wycliffe missionary and Bruce himself became publisher of a major Christian publishing house, which brought many significant Christian books to the public. Bruce finished the story with a flourish saying that the retreat had had worldwide impact when you think about it. The man was silent. Dale and Bruce though that maybe they were boring him. Then the stranger quietly said, I led that retreat. It was my first time as a conference leader, and I felt like a total failure. Until this moment, I have always believed it was one of the biggest failures of my life. Dale Bourke wrote, What had seemed like the simple act of offering a ride to a stranger had turned into a powerful reminder that God uses our efforts whether we realize it or not. I may spend the rest of my life doing things that dont seem at all successful. Yet only God knows the purpose. I am called simply to be faithful.
It is required of stewards that a man be found faithful (I Corinthians 4:2)
Right now, you may feel like a failure in what youre doing. Just be faithful. Its not your job to figure out if what you do (or what you did in the past) matters. Thats the work of the Spirit. Your job is to do your part. Doing what we are called to do is the point.
#10. NEGATIVE WORDS
A young woman confessed to an older man that she had a problem saying too much about people. He told her to go buy a bird and pluck out its feathers one by one as penance for her sin. When she returned and told the man that she had followed his instructions, he said, Now go back and pick up all the feathers. I cant do that, said the girl. The wind has blown them in all directions. That is true, said the wise man. Neither can you recall the words that you have spoken. Need an additional picture of how impossible it is to take back something once youve said it? Squeeze a tube of toothpaste and then try to put the toothpaste back in. Its nearly impossible to do. And its the same with our negative words once theyve found their way out of our mouths.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4)
Think before you speak. Always be sincere when giving encouraging words (Your words wont go far if your actions dont back them up). Remember, encouragement and advice are not the same thing. And try this: be your best encourager. As the verse says, perverse (or cutting) words crush the spirit. Are you crushing yourself with self-hatred? When you feel discouraged, hand that discouragement over to God. Ask Him to help you. Stop wounding and maiming yourself and others. Words cannot be recaptured once theyve escaped our lips. Fortunately, the same goes for kind words, too. Ask God for help and try again. By His grace, your words will become a tree of life.
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One of the modules teaches you how to become a powerful storyteller, and how to use stories to drive home the main point of your sermons.
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