3 Words of Wisdom on Preaching Narratives

Personally, I enjoy every opportunity to preach a biblical narrative. This is not only because of the preaching itself, but also because of the study. I always feel stretched when I study a narrative, and blessed when I stick with it.

In his excellent book, Preaching with Variety, Jeffrey Arthurs offers three reasons to be cautious when it comes to preaching narratives (and like me, he is very much in favor of it!)

1. Pastoral Reason. Many may consider narrative sermons as mere entertainment. While they may be wrong, the best convincing tactic is not to force-feed them! There are ways to preach a narrative passage that feels like a traditional sermon (without dissecting the story to death). Think very carefully about the timing of a first 1st-person sermon (Arthurs suggests Christmas and Easter).

2. Exegetical Reason. Particularly in reference to 1st-person sermons, many narratives are written in 3rd-person. We shouldn’t cavalierly jettison the form of the text, but recognize that often a move to 1st-person is a move, rather than a starting point.

3. Epistemological Reason. While narrative is the most used genre in the Bible, it is not the only genre. While our culture may be becoming increasingly a story culture again, humans are not limited to one approach to communication. Narratives and propositions belong together. People need to hear direct communication from the Bible, not just indirect. They need to hear directly stated truths from us too.

One thought on “3 Words of Wisdom on Preaching Narratives

  1. I just finished preaching through Jonah and it was refreshing for both myself and our church. Preaching through a narrative still requires that you preach it from within its context and let the story tell itself.

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