Most preachers who have attempted the narrative form of sermon have used the parallel narrative structure. They might not have called it that, but this is what happened. In the attempt to preacher a narrative sermon the minister told a personal story and intertwined the Biblical story into the account. How do I know, because I have done it. Often this is one of the first attempts for a minister in using this methodology. Of course, if done well, it is well with the soul, but if done poorly, there is great sadness over the text. Here are a few reasons why this approach does not always work.
1. The personal narrative takes over. I remember using this form one time in a class, using my choice in going to Texas as the foundation account. After I was done, one of the students said, I got lost in your story and missed the text. This happened often with this style. Your personal story overpowers the text. Your story is funny, you tell it well, and it seems that the text is attached to it, instead of your story being attached to the text.
2. Which world counts. Often with this form, the modern world of the preacher seems to dictate the text. What is the lesson of the sermon, often instead of the text providing the lesson, and creating a world within this world, the text merely seems to endorse some insight from the preacher. It is because the preacher started with the story instead of the text. In all sermons, the text must be the starting point, but often narrative form has started with the listener.
3. What will be remembered. Once again, since the story is too powerful for the text, not that the text can ever be overwhelmed, but the speaker does this, what is remembered is the story of the speaker and not the story of the text. The personal story must be the tool to highlight the text. At the end of the sermon, there needs to be enlightenment on the meaning of the text, with a “a ha” moment of “this is what God means” not “wow, that preacher does some crazy stuff.”
Hope this little analysis helps in forming good narrative sermons. Remember, narrative is not wrong or right, it is a tool that can be used correctly or incorrectly, so use it right and God is pleased.
- Review of “The Integrity of Biblical Narrative”
- Better Sermons
- Read “The Four Pages of the Sermon”
- The Christmas Story
- The Mega Story in Sermons