Over the years I’ve taught preaching in university courses and mentored a number of preaching apprentices and preachers-in-training. This series summarizes some of the most basic yet most useful preaching points I’ve emphasized in these settings.
Preaching Point #8: The Narrative Factor – The most fruitful preaching will tell a good story (inductive) rather than simply make a good case (deductive).
This is a slightly different way of emphasizing what I’ve shared in Preaching Point #2 about induction and deduction. As a general rule I find it preferable both biblically and culturally to craft messages that tell a good story rather than messages that merely make a good case. Biblically the genre of choice is narrative. Even the most deductive of elements in Scripture (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount) are framed within the context of a story (e.g., the story of Jesus). The Bible is ultimately a grand story from Genesis through Revelation. I thus strive to incorporate induction as the major structure in most of my sermons because induction is more narrative in nature.
Culturally, we are increasingly story-driven. From advertising to the arts, from literature to multimedia, narrative carries the day. I thus strive to create messages which are more narrative in form. Story has become the default expectation for listeners.
This is not to say that induction cannot make a good case. Rather it is to say that making a good case alone is insufficient. Stringing together a list of unrelated items about why listeners should believe X or do Y may win minds but it will not win hearts. Preaching at its best engages mind and heart, intellect and emotion. Narrative excels at this.