Within days of delivering my second Narrative sermon message I received some important feedback. Some of the members of the congregation felt like they were back in school, and that my messages – because they included extracts of children’s stories – were not speaking to them. They felt I was too much in ‘teacher’ mode.
While my immediate response was one of disappointment, I could easily discern why such a feeling was pervading many of my congregants. By weaving the children’s stories through the sermons, the illustrations were not communicating the message that needed to be communicated.
So, I went back to the drawing board and thought about how to structure my narrative message so it was closer to what my mature congregation were used to.
I still wanted to use a narrative preaching approach, so I reconsidered Eugene Lowry’s structure, referred to in an earlier post, and went back to the drawing board.
The lectionary readings for this particular week were The Transfiguration of Jesus. Interestingly, the OT reading was Moses journey up the mountain to be given the law.
It was not different to structure the message so that it taught and illustrated how Jesus’ Transfiguration fit within the overarching story of the Bible.
The feedback after delivering this message was profoundly positive. Although much of their positivity towards the message was because it’s format was more familiar to them, I believe because it still had a narrative structure, with a plot and climax, it was still a joy to prepared.
Accordingly, while criticism and feedback is hard to receive at first, I believe it is essential if one is to improve on preaching God’s good news story in a powerful and effective manner.