Just a little post to finish off this mini-series. So you have decided not to pluck a story and lift sometimes imaginary life lessons from it. You have studied it in its context and started to note the layers of intricate story within story crafting that the author has done. Maybe you’ve been nudged to recognize the meaning of the story with the help of commentaries too, of course. But how do you preach it? This can seem overwhelming.
1. Determine the main idea of the story. In light of its context, what is the main thought of the story you are actually preaching?
2. Figure out how much context you need to set. This is determined not only by the story itself, but also by your context. Some groups of listeners are ready to handle the bigger picture more than others.
3. Decide which layering details help communicate that main idea. There will be so much you could spot and point out, but some of it will not make sense to listeners, or will seem like exegetical trivia if you can’t give a full sweep and explanation. But if you don’t give some “fingers on the text” observations, listeners may think you are making up your own take on the meaning of the story.
4. Be sure to tell the story. So easy to think our task is to share exegetical insights and theological profundities and applicational nuggets. Remember that God inspired the story to mark lives. Let it do that. Tell the story.
5. Make the application the theocentric application intended by the text. It is about God and it is supposed to mark us in response to God. Don’t drop God out for the sake of a top-tip for creative truth telling in foreign lands.
6. Don’t forget to invite people into the text. Your preaching, with sensitivity to the flow of the book, should motivate listeners to want to read and dig for themselves. Don’t be shy to suggest that.
So much more could be said, but let’s leave it there for now . . .