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How to Tell a Great Story

The purposes of the beginning, middle, and end

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To tell stories well (biblical stories or otherwise), make sure they have a beginning, middle, and end. This is especially true of the lean stories, lasting from one to five minutes, that we normally use in sermons. Each part — beginning, middle, and end — is essential, each different in purpose.

Beginnings

The beginnings of lean stories have three fundamental purposes.

1. Orient hearers. We must provide a minimum of information that sets the story in time and place. Who are the people that begin the story? Where and when is the story happening?

When hearers get insufficient information, they are distracted and often frustrated. They won't fully follow the story or appreciate the story's resolution (Ever see the first Mission Impossible movie?).

However, too much information bogs the story, diminishes interest, and frustrates hearers. Give no more information than necessary. From beginning to end, a story needs movement.

"Jesus said: 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to ...

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