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Vitality of Specifics

Choosing the best words to tell the story

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Bible stories will bore or thrill a congregation — depending on the preacher's language. While a preacher's language will make or break a sermon from any literary genre in the Bible, more is at stake in sermons from Old Testament narrative texts. The reason is the preacher's primary tactic is telling the story well. Preachers must adopt a style that draws listeners into the story. This style must cause the characters of the story to leap from the pages of Scripture to the stage of life.

The more I listen to and preach Old Testament narrative sermons, the more I'm convinced the key to an engaging storytelling style is specificity. Stories that engage my interest use vivid words and draw concrete pictures. Good preachers don't settle for generic descriptions. They paint specific pictures. Based on the criteria of specificity, I give the sermon on 1 Samuel 15 mixed reviews for its storytelling.

On the positive side, the sermon uses a few concrete, specific words. The right word can make ...

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