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The Bible story you are looking at was inspired by God. Not only did He inspire the content, but He also inspired the form. God felt that having that truth clothed in the genre of story was the best option. Now you have the opportunity to preach it. How can you preach that story with maximum power?

1. Be sure to grasp and preach the main point. 

A story does not consist of details collected together to offer you numerous launch points for vaguely connected ideas and insights. The story consists of details deliberately chosen to help make the story work, to make the main point effective. Be sure to grapple with the main point more than you hunt for “preaching points.”

2. Be careful to honor the form as well as the content.

Why chop it up and preach it as discourse when God made it a story? This means that the bulk of your message should involve the best retelling of the story that you can manage. Speaking of which, two critical elements of powerful story preaching:

3. Put your energy into effective description.

Study hard so you can describe well. Build your sensory descriptive vocabulary so you can describe effectively. Read C.S.Lewis or another great fiction writer to get a taste of compelling description.  Turn on your imagination again, because if you can see it, they will see it. Take enough time for your descriptions to form on the screens in the listeners’ minds. And pour similar energy into describing the application of your message too. Speaking of energy . . .

4. Present with energy through engaging dynamism.

To be blunt, people don’t listen to dull stories. To be honest, we rarely tell dull stories in normal life. Ask me about my littlest girl’s birth last week and I’ll be engagingly dynamic. I need to let that version of me show when I preach a Bible story. When you preach a Bible story, remember that if you really care so it shows, they will care, too.

I think these four suggestions are the very essence of powerfully preaching a Bible story.  What would you add?



Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at BiblicalPreaching.net and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014). Follow him on Twitter

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Horace Wimpey

commented on Mar 28, 2012

Thank you for the insight. Just this week I believe God has been speaking to me about telling the story.

Dean Johnson

commented on Mar 28, 2012

This is a good reminder. If God thought the best way to teach the theology was through story, am I wiser than him in choosing to preach it as propositional statements?

Paul Barreca

commented on Mar 28, 2012

Great thoughts. I recently preached on Genesis 14 and told the story of Lot's rescue from Kedolaomer through the eyes of the servant who escaped the battle and gave Abraham the news. I had to use some creative embellishment, but it was based on the details of the story line. Seemed effective.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Mar 28, 2012

As a Homiletical prof, Paul, I can testify along with my students that applying Propositonal preaching into a story is how people connect the dots of the teaching purpose of the story. What I say, I say kindly!

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Mar 28, 2012

Sorry, Paul, for I intended to address Dean.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Mar 28, 2012

Dr. Kauffman, this is a sincere question: if it is true that "applying Propositonal(sic) preaching into a story is how people connect the dots of the teaching purpose of the story," then why is this not done in Scripture? Why doesn't Mark, for example, after each story in his gospel, list out two or three propositional statements regarding the teaching purpose of the story he just related. For that matter, why do we have to connect the dots for people? Is it not possible for people, through one-on-one and/or small group teaching, in conjunction with the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, to be trained how to connect these dots for themselves? I'm not trying to be contrarian. I'm sincerely interested on your thoughts regarding these questions. Blessing to you and your ministry!

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Mar 28, 2012

Fernando, yes, this is a serious issue to address, and the reason the stories of Jesus, parables, were asked by the Disciples for an explanation is why a story without structure in preaching, which is propositional preaching, is an imperative. Hope you are doing well!

Fernando Villegas

commented on Mar 28, 2012

Dr. Kauffman, that is an excellent point. Notice, however, that the explanations of Jesus' parables were given to the disciples in the context of a small group, not in public preaching. That was the reason why I suggested that explanations and "connecting the dots" could be better done in a more intimate, interactive setting, where people can be taught not only the explanations, but more importantly, how to connect those dots for themselves. Of course, I'm not saying that propositional statements have no place in public preaching, but I am concerned that some preachers (take John Piper, for example) might elevate "propositional preaching" to a higher level than warranted by Scripture. A sermon on Luke 15 should not sound the same as a sermon on Romans 8. I also notice that Jesus' public preaching often left people scratching their heads and asking, "Huh?!" Which leads me to believe that perhaps explanation and clarity were not the primary concerns of Jesus' preaching ministry! I appreciate your thoughts!

Robert Sickler

commented on Mar 28, 2012

Academically interesting! Worth taking thought of, but only to a limited degree. Paul said that it is more important to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit than the wise words of man. A preacher will accomplish much through much prayer and reliance on the Holy Spirit. A sermon impacts the people in a powerful way when it is empowered by the Spirit of God.

Suresh Manoharan

commented on Mar 28, 2012

It is an age-old truth really...as old as 2*2=4. Thanks Brother, for re-emphasizing the fact that a story is only as good as its presentation...

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