by Jeff Henderson
How do you teach the Bible to people who don’t believe the Bible and may not be very interested in what the Bible has to say? You tell stories. Stories are powerful. It’s why we love to watch movies and TV, and read novels.
When you teach propositional truth, you set me up to debate with you. I am going to have objections. When you tell me a story, you set me up to find myself in the story. I can’t help it. Jesus knew this. It’s why He always taught with a story. Matthew 13:34, “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.”
So tell stories. When you tell stories, put in lots of detail, it makes the story come alive.
Practice your stories before you tell them. Each time you tell the story you’ll better feel the flow of it and find the humor in it.
The difficult part, as someone who speaks every week, is having enough stories to always have a story. Two things I’ve found help me.
- First, I watch my life. As things happen I’m always thinking, “Would this be an interesting story? Would this be funny to other people? What truth does this illustrate?” If I didn’t actively think this way, I think I’d miss a lot of good material.
- Second, I watch movies and TV shows, listen to other sermons, and read books and magazines. And as I do, again, I’m looking for interesting or funny or beautiful or compelling stories that can illustrate truth.
Other people probably have better systems for filing stories, but one thing that has worked for me is to have documents created in my computer for future messages, and when I have a story I’ll type it into the document for that future message. Then, later, when I open the file up to write the sermon, it’s like I’ve left myself a present.
And then I’m so happy with myself I usually tip me a couple bucks. You might try using Evernote, that’s a great tool to save and file stories.
What’s most powerful is when, like Jesus, you’re able to connect your story (and your entire message) to the bigger story. That’s what people are looking for. Why does an unchurched non-Christian kind of person show up at church?
- They’re hoping there is a God.
- They’re hoping He might still love them.
- They’re hoping maybe life has purpose, and maybe they’re not as alone as they feel.
- They want something bigger and better than what they’ve experienced.
We need to show them the epic story of God, and how to connect to it and find their place in it.
This is an excerpt from Module 5 of Preaching Rocket Preaching to the Unchurched.
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