The study of preaching is one that has gone on for hundreds of years. One such segment focuses on looking at something called The Narative Homiletic. In this approach, a speaker takes listeners on a journey in which the transformational message, aka thesis, isn’t revealed until the very end.
It’s interesting how this plays out though.
The point of a narrative is for it to traverse across an expanse — to show people an unfolding story ultimately headed somewhere. I find this to be a beautiful style of speaking. But I’d also ask the simple question,
Where does the narrative end?
Is it a place of wide-open freedom? Asking people to run wild in the field of new found knowledge?
Or is it a place of strict and tangible idea? Prescription that people can latch onto rather than actually pursue themselves?
We as humans tend to like black and white thought. We want to land on strict takeaway. A message that flows with a clear takeaway enables us to not put forth the work of actually tasting the reality ourselves.
But I would argue a good sermon is one that, through its narrative and the destination it leads to, actually forces the listener into a wider and broader space.
You take people on a journey that is the river, and that journey empties into the ocean. And as uncomfortable and frustrating as that can be for a listener, it’s the invitation into interaction that can actually provide transformation.
It’s parable over commandment.
If we are to create our own narrative, it’s through the experience that we are pushed into having. Not the answer that is given.