(You can click on the image to enlarge it.)
This post is obviously for people who preach or teach.
How do the various parts of your sermon affect people emotionally?
How does the congregation you serve feel at the end of your sermon? Are they motivated to follow Jesus more closely? Are they uplifted, given hope? Do they feel like coming back next week? Do they head straight for a bar to make themselves feel better?
Every sermon produces an emotional reaction in those who experience it.
Are you aware of how each part of your sermon affects the congregation- when they feel a sense of heaviness, when they feel uplifted, when they feel angry, tired, impatient, embarrassed, apprehensive, expectant, relieved, excited, joyful?
Are you intentional about what emotion each element of your sermon produces?
Narrative sermons engage the emotions on purpose. This is not emotional manipulation. It is simply the result of involving the congregation in a drama, and experiencing emotions is a continual and normal aspect of human life. The congregation you serve experiences emotions while you preach, regardless of whether you are intentional about it or not.
A narrative sermon moves forward like the plot of a movie, novel, or any story. In other words, it employs the elements of drama. In doing so, it engages both the intellect and emotions of those who experience the sermon.
My bias is that I believe sermons should end “up”, as an uplifting experience. I believe this because the Gospel is good news, and therefore, results in joy. A great sermon also eplores and feels the deep pain and suffering that is part of the human experience, but God’s redemptive purpose in creation ultimately has a happy ending. I believe that every sermon should send the congregation out with that expectant joy and hope.
This past Sunday, I succeeded at this movement in the 8:00 and 9:30 services but not at 11:00. At 11:00, I left off the comic relief at the end, so the sermon ended more down than it should have. I could feel it, and it was painful to me. I know that the congregation felt it too.
Next time, I’ll be more intentional about guaging the emotions that my sermon is producing in the congregation as I preach it and make corrections to make sure that I end “up.”.
For more on narrative sermons, check out my blog post https://ryangear.com/2010/03/03/narrative-sermons/.