Frederick Haynes’ Stories – Improving Your Preaching

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.

Finding Stories

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.

Haynes Twist – Talking to Objects

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.

What Stories Do for Us

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.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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