If You're in the Pulpit, Make Sure You Tell a Story
Tony Morgan more from this author »
I spent nine years being mentored by Mark Beeson at Granger Community Church. In that time, we never had formal one-on-one mentoring sessions, but I was constantly observing how he lived life and led the church. I learned a lot in that season that still shapes who I am today. I remember one time, as I was getting ready to share a few announcements in one of our services, Mark was standing beside me. As I was preparing to go up on the platform, Mark leaned over to me and told me, “Make sure you tell a story.”
If you know Mark, you know that he’s a very gifted storyteller. I am not. I have to discipline myself to do that. I’m naturally more about the information. I’m good at details. What Mark understood, though, was that people would tune me out if I just gave them information. The only way they would engage is if I shared a story.
Jesus told stories.
Jesus, of course, modeled this. He was constantly sharing stories. They’re referred to as parables in the Bible. One day, his disciples were kind of perplexed with the way Jesus was communicating. I bet they were detail guys like me. It appears they were frustrated that Jesus wasn’t teaching verse by verse. Because they weren’t hearing the teaching they expected, they asked Jesus about it.
“Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant. He replied, 'You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders'” (Mark 4: 10-11 NLT).
It turns out that Mark was telling me the same thing Jesus told the disciples. If you want people to engage the truth, you have to tell a story. This is especially important for people who are “outsiders” —those who we hope will take a next step toward Christ.
- If you want people to connect with your vision, tell a story.
- If you want people to engage in worship, tell a story.
- If you want people to understand the truth found in Scripture, tell a story.
- If you want people to give financially, tell a story.
- If you want people to take their next step toward Christ, tell a story.
Are you sharing stories?
Here’s what I believe about the Church today: We’re good at sharing information, but we are poor at telling stories. We see stories being told in culture all around us, but in the church, we’ve lost the art. It’s not our focus. Here are a few questions to help you assess your ministry in this area:
- Is your Sunday service more focused on sharing information or telling stories?
- Is your weekly program more focused on sharing information or telling stories?
- Is your Web site more focused on sharing information or telling stories?
- Are your small groups or Sunday school classes more focused on sharing information or telling stories?
Are you praying people will take their next step toward Jesus? If so, make sure you tell a story.