Three Ways to Use Stories in Your Sermon


As a preacher, you spend significant time finding compelling stories to help build on your point and engage your audience. However, having a good story is only one part of successfully using stories in your preaching. Having found the right story, you need to think about how that story fits into your sermon and how you will use it. To that end, today we will look at three approaches to using stories in your preaching.

The Big Moment

The big moment is all about building to a particular part of a story to draw on the experience of the story. For instance, I tell a story about a time that I unintentionally poured milk into the lap of an unsuspecting stranger. The story itself is funny, and generally, people like to hear about when preachers embarrass themselves. As good as these outcomes are they are rarely the point of telling that particular story. Instead, I tell that story to arrive at the moment immediately after spilling the milk where I thought I would never get over it. It is there where I put a pin and describe the moment, in gruesome detail, to bring everyone to the same experience. The point of this story is to arrive at a moment that can be shared by everyone.

The Long Pause

The long pause is about creating a natural break in the story and resting in that pause while you explore what you might learn from that experience. Much like the big moment, you are building to a focal point, but the critical difference is once you have explored the tension you have created (by turning to Scripture, looking at the issue in history, or whatever source of information you turn to) you return to the story to share the ending. This approach is a classic form of storytelling where you rest on the climax of the conflict to resolve the conflict elsewhere and eventually return to see the resolution in the story.

The Endearing Experience

This endearing experience is really about connecting with your audience. Perhaps, you are preaching to a large group of people who don’t know you, or maybe you want to start your sermon by establishing rapport with your listeners. Whatever the case, you tell a story that connects to both the content of your sermon but also related to you. In this case, you are intentionally trying to share a personal story to share something of yourself. The endearing experience is a useful form of storytelling that not only helps to draw in your listeners but also establishes you as a real person.

There are countless other ways to think about using stories in your sermons. If you have ideas, share them in the comments below.