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When a narrative does its work, it can really work in the heart and mind of a listener.
Perhaps you have read Between Two Worlds by John Stott? It is a classic textbook for preachers.
In it, Stott lists the biblical metaphors for a preacher: a herald, a seed sower, etc. Then he reverently adds his own – the preacher as a bridge-builder.
Well, this is not a classic textbook, this is a blog post. And I am not John Stott. So I am going to offer several only marginally helpful metaphors for the preacher. They are probably helpful as far as they go, and it is also helpful to not go too far!
A Video Painter – When you are preaching biblical narrative it may be helpful to think of yourself as a video painter. You might be thinking these metaphors are only marginally helpful because this is not a real thing, but hang in there.
Narratives are powerful. They grip listeners with the tension of a plot. They stir identification and association with the reality of the characters. When a narrative does its work, it can really work in the heart and mind of a listener.
So what is the preacher to do? Are we supposed to strip out those narrative features and perform an autopsy on a dissected and dead story? Or are we supposed to preach that story in words that paint moving pictures on the internal video screen of our listeners’ imaginations?
A good preacher of narrative ignites the imagination, paints pictures that move, and allows the text to do what the text was inspired and designed to do. There is more to preaching narrative than that, but there shouldn’t be less.
Next time we will add another!