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Jesus in the Pulpit: Jokes and Stories
by Tom Goodman
February 10, 2005
I’m taking a few editions of LeaderLines to look at Christ’s style of preaching. Just as I want to imitate the way he lived, I also want to imitate the way he taught:
o He was a topical preacher
o He was relevant
o He told jokes and stories
o He welcomed seekers
o He called for a decision
In previous LeaderLines we’ve already looked at the first two points: He was topical and relevant in his teaching. In other words, he helped people apply God’s word to issues that concerned them.
Here’s a third insight into his teaching: He told jokes and stories. Sometimes his entire lesson revolved around stories about farmers sowing seed or fishermen separating fish or a son who returned home after his rebellion led to ruin. In addition, he would tell entertaining jokes to make his points. He once talked about a man who offered to take a speck of sawdust out of another man’s eye while walking around with a whole log in his own eye. We might miss the first-century humor in twenty-first-century America, but his audience would have laughed at how Jesus poked fun at judgmental hypocrites with this story. In another instance, he referred to King Herod as “that fox”—which would have been a joke as provocative as anything John Stewart tells on politicians in The Daily Show.
There’s power in a good story and a disarming joke. Ronald Reagan recognized this, and was called “The Great Communicator” because he tapped into this power. He used living examples and a lot of stories in his speeches. He referred to people in the audience and told their stories. Those of us who preach and teach need to hone this skill, too.
I don’t tell enough stories, but I’m working on it. In recent years, I’ve worked hard to see that my pulpit lessons include
. . . news accounts,
. . . dramatic true stories,
. . . biographical vignettes of famous people,
. . . “let’s pretend” scenarios,
. . . and short clips from popular movies.
When I read the jokes and stories Jesus told, I’m convinced that he was on to something. Here lies the secret of his ability to connect with people, and here lies a great untapped resource for all of us who want to teach like Jesus.
Lab Rats Wanted: In this week’s Winning Ways I extended a call for “Lab Rats” willing to help me test my new book. For more information, go to www.hillcrestaustin.org/#pastor. The Lab Rat experiment begins February 22, so sign up soon! Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be part of this exciting project!
Exciting News About Adult Bible Study! Beginning March 6, Adults will have two great options for Bible study on Sunday Mornings.
Option 1 is our current organization of wonderful Bible Study departments and classes.
Option 2 is a new organization of small groups called RiBS (Relational Bible Study). These small groups will form from those who come on March 6 to the MPC to connect with other adults who prefer this format. The
RiBS groups will focus on study, application, ministry, and fellowship.
March 6 is also designated as a High Attendance Day for Hillcrest, so please make every effort to be here for this big kick-off day in our Adult Bible Study program. For more information about Adult Bible Study, go to www.hillcrestaustin.org/#education.
Exciting News About Children’s Sunday School! Beginning March 6, children in
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