In 1979 Lois and I were newly-married. To pay for our living expenses and try to get to college to continue to prepare for the ministry I drove a lunch wagon affectionately referred to as “The Roach Coach.” I listened to Christian radio continually. New on the radio that year was a young pastor with a fresh approach. His name was Chuck Swindoll. I loved his style. He was a faithful Bible teacher. He was an expositor. He was a story-teller. Recently he wrote on the power of story:
by Chuck Swindoll
Stories transport us into another world. They hold our attention. They become remarkable vehicles for the communication of truth and meaningful lessons that cannot be easily forgotten. If a picture is better than a thousand words, a story is better than a million!
Some of the best stories are those spun from everyday life or from our past. Family histories are held together and handed down from generation to generation in stories. And these strong cords of memory actually become the ties that bind.
Biographies drip with interesting accounts worth passing on. For example, Human Options by the late Norman Cousins is a treasure house of his recollections, impressions, and encounters distilled from his dozen or more trips around the world. He calls it an “autobiographical notebook.”
Stories, real and imagined, told with care and color, can say much more than a planned speech. It is probably not surprising, then, that the use of story was Jesus’ favorite method of preaching: “he did not say anything to them without using a parable” (Matt. 13:34, NIV).
In fact, I’ve never heard a great preacher who couldn’t tell a good story. Woven into the tapestry of the strong message is the ability to communicate solid stuff through an attention-getting story.
Had I lived in Spurgeon’s day, I would no doubt have subscribed to his material. He published one sermon per week for every year of his ministry, from 1855 until his death in 1892. So prolific was this prince of the pulpit, that at his death there were still so many unpublished Spurgeon sermons, they continued to be printed at the same rate for twenty-five more years. Many include wonderful, memorable stories.
Are you interested in getting truth to stick in your child’s head? Use a story. Can’t seem to penetrate your teenager’s skull? Try a story. Need a tip for making your devotional or Sunday school lesson interesting? Include a story. Want to add some zest to your letter-writing ministry? A brief story will do the trick. Want to learn how to tell them so folks will stay interested? Listen to Paul Harvey.
Best of all, read your Bible. His Story is one you won’t be able to put down.
Grandparents (and parents, too) need to be reminded that our little ones love to hear about how it was and what it was that brought us to this moment. Tell your stories! Consider recording them or writing them down for future generations.