Teaching Strategies | Storytelling

Pastors teach every week. They spend hours preparing their message, and some apply teaching strategies to help you remember and apply their message to your lives. Then comes Sunday, they deliver it. Yet, if it does not reach the emotion level of the audience, or move them to change something in their lives, such as behavior, attitude, time spent with God, repentance, etc., by the next week, most people will not even remember the message.

People have short memory spans. Studies show by the fourth day, if there is nothing to reinforce the message, the listener will have forgotten it completely.  One of the ways to move people to action, or to have them change their ways, is the use of good stories.  Stories that people can identify with will move people from within. Good stories humanize the message and help people identify with it. These stories build emotion and allow people to better understand how to apply the message to their lives.

SOURCE OF GOOD STORIES

Applying stories as one of your teaching strategies makes sense. This is why I recommend using them to reinforce your lesson. If stories are important for your students to grasp your message, then what makes a good story? Your life makes a great story. Pulling from your own experience makes sense. People enjoy listening to stories they can identify with. Oftentimes, a story about a failure or difficult time in your life helps the listener identify with the message. Personal stories will help you appear more human, with the same frailties the listener has. They help the listener identify with your circumstance.  Next, students gain courage when they hear how you were victorious in some life struggle. Finally, a personal story helps the listener remember the message.

There are several advantages to using personal stories to grab your audience’s attention First, personal stories help you appear more human, with the same frailties the listener has. Next, they help the listener identify with your circumstance.  Third, students gain courage when they hear how you were victorious in some life struggle. Finally, a personal story helps the listener remember the message.

WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE A PERSONAL STORY OR WISH NOT TO SHARE IT?

If you don’t have a personal story, or you wish not to share it, then share someone else’s story. Other sources for stories include those from the Old Testament or historical events. For instance, I like to use stories about our nation’s Founders and their beliefs. I use these because so many people do not know our nation’s history or the Christian foundation our Founders built this nation on. So, using a historical illustration not only reinforces my message, it allows my listeners to learn a little history too.

Sometimes I tell a story about my children when they were younger. When I tell a story about them, I do not use their names. Instead, I focus on some of the struggles they faced growing up. Young people can identify with the difficulties and temptations they faced, and how they overcame their battles. If I am talking to adults, I let them know how we, as parents, struggled with how to handle our children. I often explain how the Bible and answered prayer gave us the wisdom and the strength to get us through those difficult years.  One caution, if the story is sensitive in nature, you may not want to use it. However, if you do, share it in the third person. For instance, “I had a friend, whose daughter….” This way you get the message out while protecting your children’s character or personal life.

SUMMARY

There are many sources for stories. Using a story to illustrate a point, or to point people to victory or a change in their life is effective. As you build your message, search your past, the Old Testament, historical events, or today’s events. These sources will help you build a memorable story that your listeners can identify with. Good teaching strategies incorporate stories to reach an audience emotionally or to illustrate some key points in your message.

Picture: Common License, public domain