Let’s assume that the reading is taken care of, and as I suggested yesterday this might not mean the reading of the text itself. Now, what to do with the telling of the story? Should we just read it, or should we tell it? I say we should tell it, and we should tell it well (and typically in the telling of it we may add detail not included in the text). Typically we will tell it with certain sections, or even the whole text, read along the way. Why tell and not just read?
1. The preacher’s task is to present the text by way of explanation. A big part of the explanation of the story is the effective telling of the story, and the effective telling of the story requires the preacher to describe the action, the scene, the situation in vivid colour so that the image can form in the hearts of the listeners.
2. The preacher’s task includes applying the story with contemporary relevance emphasized. A big part of the application of the story is helping listeners inhabit the tension of the story, identifying with the characters as they wrestle with life in response to the Word of God. A well told story carries a significant proportion of the explanation and the application of the message.
3. The preacher’s task includes not only saying what the text says, but doing what the text does. To put it another way, we need to honour the genre inspired by God’s Spirit. By telling story, we honour story as the genre of God’s own choosing.
4. The Bible text tends to be both lean and distant. It is lean in that every detail counts and every detail carries significance in the telling of the story. It is distant in that the original writers could assume awareness of culture, politics, history, geography, flora/fauna, etc. To simply read the text is, in some cases, to dishonour the inspired story by not allowing it to hit home in the imaginations and hearts of the listeners.
I could probably offer more reasons to tell the story and to tell it well, but I’ve gone long enough for today!