The second step to exegete the text so that you can more effectively tell the Biblical story as presented in Martha Simmons’s and Henry Mitchell’s book entitled Study Guide to Accompany Celebration and Experience in Preaching is to note the feelings you find in the text.
Here you once again read the text and place yourself in the text. However, this time you are looking for the feelings of the various people in the text.
Look for any feelings including the following:
Mitchell and Simmons note that you should write down what feelings you would feel if you were in the position of the Bible character.
African American Preaching is about encouraging the people to have an encounter with the Bible story. How do you do this? How do you strengthen your storytelling ability specifically for preaching? In the next 5 posts, I will present Rev. Martha Simmons’ steps to help preachers “tell the story.” These steps are from her and Henry Mitchell’s book entitled Study Guide to Accompany Celebration and Experience in Preaching.
The first step is to look at the passage of scripture as if you were walking in the text. Look at it like a movie. Be sure to look at the parts that have to do with the senses.
In your exegesis, you should exegete it using your senses. You do that by looking at the text for these different characteristics.
I make a habit of listening to Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III of Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas Texas. Dr. Haynes incorporates stories into his preaching very effectively. These stories are gleaned from various sources.
These stories come from various locations. Some of Dr. Haynes’ stories are from his life. Sometimes he tells stories from books that he has read. Some of the stories are from history, especially African American history. I have heard him quote stories from Readers Digest. In addition, Haynes has told stories from television, songs, arts, and other sources. Basically, Dr. Haynes can tell a story from just about anywhere.
One of Dr. Haynes more innovative storytelling tactics is the personification of inanimate objects. In these narratives, Dr. Haynes speaks to the object and the object talks back. The discussion is always to illustrate the gospel in the sermon.
For example, I remember one sermon where Dr. Haynes describes a conversation between himself and a slice of pound cake. Here Haynes discussed with the pound cake the steps that the pound cake had to go through to become sweet and good for eating. These steps included the mixing, pounding, and the heating in the oven of the ingredients of the pound cake. This conversation provided an illustration of what God will do to us to turn us into what God wants us to be.
In a recent sermon, Dr. Haynes had a conversation with a pair of pants. He was going to iron the pair of pants and the pants didn’t want to experience the heat. The conversation demonstrated how Haynes would provide just enough heat to get rid of the wrinkles but not too much to destroy the pants. This was an illustration of God only allowing just enough heat on us to get rid of our imperfections.
These conversations are effective ways to help the people experience the good news. In a way it is the “rock’s crying out” and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
More than these conversations, but Dr. Haynes also tells stories about common occurrences. He sees gospel in even these stories. For example, Dr. Haynes can talk about how a cab driver got him to the airport on time for a flight. This illustrated God’s ability to navigate our life just as the cab driver was able to get around the traffic.
In all of these cases, the stories help the people experience the gospel. In stead of just hearing the gospel, we must experience it, and we do that by seeing it in real life.
Dr. Haynes goes through great pains to make the points in his sermons practical. This is one of the reasons why his sermons are so effective.
We as preachers can apply this to our own preaching by recognizing that people have not come to hear “theory.” If you want to preach theory, then you must make that theory real with a good story.
In the end, don’t tell people “God knows how to navigate your future.” Tell a story about how a human knows how to navigate to the airport. Then people can experience the Gospel.