Storytelling plays an important role in preaching. Preachers share and interpret stories from scripture and from life every time they are in front of a community. As storytellers, preachers may proclaim God’s deeds, prepare the community to receive the good news of the gospel, and inspire the community to join God in life-giving ministry.
I saw the new Hercules movie and he had a team of comrades. One of the team members was his nephew who was not a warrior but rather a storyteller. While he was anxious to join in battle, he lacked the training or skills to do that but was very talented in narrating the accomplishments of the hero. Hercules and other team members would periodically remind him of the importance of his role. Hercules’ reputation generated from these stories that announced the accomplishments of the hero, prepared the community to receive the hero, and inspired the community to join in battle.
Announcing the accomplishments of Hercules was extremely important to reiterate his power and to gain him new jobs. His reputation had the potential of inspiring confidence in those who needed his services and of instilling fear in those he would face in battle.
The storyteller played this potential very well in order to prepare a community for the arrival of Hercules. Depending on his audience, whether they were allies or enemies, he would chose the right story to either inspire confidence or instill fear. Hercules will conveniently enter the scene after the climax of each story.
Inspiring confidence in some audiences was a necessary means to the end of recruiting soldiers. The storyteller would use Hercules’ reputation and past accomplishments to build the confidence of the people on their own skills. For example, he would tell them how the gear they would wear for battle was special and would protect them. The storyteller would even demonstrate and the soldiers would be reassured. Even in the midst of a battle the storyteller would use his skills to encourage the soldiers. Uplifting words made a difference in their performance, made them better warriors.
I no longer see God or Jesus as a violent warrior like Hercules is. However, people do struggle with many situations that feel like life is a battle. Storytelling is a great tool in the hands of preachers that are best situated to inspire people to succeed in the battle of life because of God’s accompaniment embodied in Jesus.
Similar to Hercules’ storyteller, preachers may announce the good news of the gospel sharing the stories they know. So many stories from scripture and current life, which some would call testimonies; speak about God’s accomplishments. Time and time again God’s love will overcome bringing life and delivering from death in its many manifestations. Telling the stories of God’s deeds prepares a community to receive God and experience first hand such life-giving power. Experiencing God’s love in such a way inspires us to live our lives empowered to face any challenge and to make life-giving – and not death-dealing – decisions. Let us preach to proclaim God’s accomplishments, to inspire confidence in God, and to inspire communities to love as God does.