Guide for narrative preaching could help satisfy hunger

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

This is a book for preachers who have lost their fire.

As society has gotten more sophisticated, more and more preachers have gone to a formula of, say, three points and a poem, with strong discussion of others' observations about scripture.

Meanwhile, increasingly educated church members have started up Bible studies to get closer to the meaning of scripture, more often than not without the guidance of a pastor.

Cothen, former professor of pastoral work at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, could well bring the two elements together with this book, instructing pastors in the methods of narrative preaching, which uses Biblical stories to explore the Christian message for today's believers.

Sermons are outlined for biographical narratives, profiles in courage and dedication, unusual faith, promises of God, sin and sinners, and, of course, the examples set by Jesus Christ.

At first glance, the casual reader may see this book as a 'cheat sheet" for preachers too lazy to develop their own sermon outlines. But, as Cothen says, preachers have to choose between being a "hale fellow well met" and in-depth study, prayer and meditation to effectively impart the Christian message in a manner which catches the listeners' attention.

The outlines presented are merely suggestions, and good ones at that. It is up to the preacher to use them in developing his own presentation.

Such a method could help satisfy those congregants who hunger for in-depth Bible study.

The Old, Old Story: A Guide for Narrative Preaching; Joe H. Cothen; hardbound; 191 pages; Pelican, 1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053.

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