Story Whole Structures

Textual StructuresOverview

In these structures, the biblical story is told without interruption in the course of the sermon.  That story may be told at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the sermon or it may become the entire sermon.  In each structure, however, once the story is begun, it continues without interruption until it is completed.

When the preacher is telling the story, the sermon creates an experience of the story itself.  The story is not so much an object for hearers to analyze but an experience for hearers to live through.  In doing this, the preacher relies upon creative modes of retelling that choose a particular perspective from which to tell the story (seeing the parable of the prodigal son from the stance of the older brother) or re-order the plot line of the story (beginning a retelling of the parable of the prodigal son at the moment when the younger son is broke and hungry in a foreign land) in a way that will communicate its meaning to the hearers.

When the preacher offers excursions from the story, he is able to guide with much more clarity and intention the theological reflection of the hearers upon the meaning of the story.  The more material that the preacher has that is external to the story (the excursions that appear before or after or as a frame for the story), the more control the preacher has in clarifying the meaning of the story for the hearers.

Recognizing this distinction between the biblical story and the excursions helps the preacher choose a structure with more or less excursive material depending upon the anticipated needs of his hearers.  Depending upon the biblical story and the lives of the hearers, they may need more or less excursive material for an encounter with that biblical story which ends in faithful reflection.

Story whole structures include:

© 2011 David Schmitt. All rights reserved.

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