Wednesday, April 29, 2009

“Tell stories from the pulpit!” is often a phrase that many expository preachers decry, but I am of the opinion that there is the proper place and use for such “stories.” By stories, I do not mean that you read a 3-page story downloaded from the internet to support a point. By story, in this present context, I simply mean a short anecdote, a pithy illustration, a visual simile so that the audience can see what you are saying.

As the preacher, you want your people to track with you at all times in the sermon. You want them to see it, feel it, taste it, smell it, and be there! You want there to be an audible gasp at the climax of your illustration or anecdote. Obviously, the prince at this was Charles Spurgeon. He was the master of causing you to feel what you are hearing. Read this excerpt:

“It is pleasant to pass over a country after a storm has spent itself; to smell the freshness of the herbs after the rain has passed away, and to note the drops while they glisten like purest diamonds in the sunlight. That is the position of a Christian. He is going through a land where the storm has spent itself upon his Saviour’s head, and if there be a few drops of sorrow falling, they distill from clouds of mercy, and Jesus cheers him by the assurance that they are not for his destruction. But how terrible is it to witness the approach of a tempest: to note the forewarnings of the storm; to mark the birds of heaven as they droop their wings; to see the cattle as they lay their heads low in terror; to discern the face of the sky as it groweth black, and look to the sun which shineth not, and the heavens which are angry and frowning! How terrible to await the dread advance of a hurricane—such as occurs, sometimes, in the tropics—to wait in terrible apprehension till the wind shall rush forth in fury, tearing up trees from their roots, forcing rocks from their pedestals, and hurling down all the dwelling-places of man! And yet, sinner, this is your present position. No hot drops have as yet fallen, but a shower of fire is coming. No terrible winds howl around you, but God’s tempest is gathering its dread artillery. As yet the water-floods are dammed up by mercy, but the flood-gates shall soon be opened: the thunderbolts of God are yet in his storehouse, but lo! the tempest hastens, and how awful shall that moment be when God, robed in vengeance, shall march forth in fury! Where, where, where, O sinner, wilt thou hide thy head, or whither wilt thou flee? O that the hand of mercy may now lead you to Christ! He is freely set before you in the gospel: his riven side is the rock of shelter. Thou knowest thy need of him; believe in him, cast thyself upon him, and then the fury shall be overpast for ever.” (Morning and Evening, Morning, Feb. 25th)

May we be those preachers who apply this to our preaching so that we’re not exegetical dump trucks backing up to the Sunday morning dock and then dumping everything upon our hearers. We will sooner drown them with boredom than save them with the gospel!


Anonymous said...

As I recall, there's a book about Thomas Watson and word pictures in Jack Hughes. Is that a good book? Is that an example of what you're suggesting?



geoffrey kirkland said...

Yep--that's exactly what I'm suggesting!

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