Story Telling and Role Playing

As Henry Mitchell notes in his book Black Preaching: The recovery of a lost art, African American preachers often engage in a sermon that is “story telling.” sometimes they even change into the character that they are preaching and preach a first person story. Both of these approaches are steeped in the narrative approach. Sometimes a preacher in the Black tradition is judged by whether they can “Tell the Story.”

One of the interesting things about using the Bible as a source for story telling is that many of the stories of the Bible are in outline form. In order to tell the story the preacher must often use her or his “Sanctified Imagination” to fill in details that are not in the text. Kelly Miller Smith in his book Social Crisis Preaching talks about a “freeze-dried” process to explain this phenomenon. Basically the Bible story is “freeze-dried.” However to make it available and usable by the people, water must be added. Water in this case is details to help the story to be made real in the life of the people.

To fill in these details requires that the preacher get into the characters as well as the scene. In the preacher’s exegesis the preacher should attempt to enter the story to understand it not just mentally, but with eyes, touch, and sound.

Sherman Haywood Cox II

Vanderbilt Trained Minister (MDiv), Univ. of Alabama Trained Software Developer (MS), Author, Blogger (, Husband, Son, Brother, Father.

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