Is it the characters who struggle with the same issues we do … and yet conquer their fears and overcome challenges to seize the prize? Is it the promise of justice being handed down or a happily ever after? Is it a vibrant setting we’d like to experience ourselves, at least from the comfort and safety of our own homes? Is it the mystery or the romance that attracts our attention?
The best speakers and preachers use stories to illustrate their points. Why? Because audiences will remember the story long after they’ve forgotten everything else. And when they remember the story, they’ll also recall the message.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus taught using parables.
A man scattered seed but some fell on the rocky path. A man discovered a treasure in a field and sold all he had to buy the land. Some fishermen let down their net and then sorted out the good fish from the bad. A man hired workers to harvest his crops. A shepherd lost a sheep and went looking. A woman lost a precious coin. A man went on a journey and left his servants in charge. A man invited guests to a wedding feast but most ignored his invitation. Ten virgins waited for the bridegroom but only five had enough oil. A lamp is put on a stand. A man built his house on rock. A younger son demanded his inheritance and then wasted it. A widow harassed a judge until she got justice.
Did you remember the point of each example? Could you expand my short statement into a full description? Would you have preferred hearing a sermon on the topic instead?
That’s the power of a story.
And something I’m hoping to capture in my novels as a writer.
What about you? What was your favorite story as a child? What’s your favorite story now? What makes those particular stories stick in your mind? Would you rather hear a sermon or hear a story?