Narrative preaching and teaching

Narrative preaching and teaching: An assignment

A practical assignment on narrative preaching.

Regarding the stories of Scripture, Charles Bradford writes, “The narratives have been told and retold, but they never lose their power. One would think that familiarity on the part of the hearers would lessen the effect, that there would be no element of surprise and therefore no suspense (necessary ingredients for storytelling). But when the preacher is completely identified with the message, the scene lives again.”1

Bradford describes theologian Helmut Thielicke’s experience listening to one of the greats: “When Spurgeon speaks, it is as if the figures of the patriarchs and prophets and apostles were in the auditorium. . . . You hear the rush of the Jordan and the murmuring of the brooks of Siloam; you see the cedars of Lebanon swaying in the wind, hear the clash and tumult of battle between the children of Israel and the Philistines, sense the safety and security of Noah’s ark, suffer the agonies of soul endured by Job and Jeremiah, hear the creak of oars as the disciples strain against the contrary winds, and feel the dread of the terrors of the apocalypse.”2

The assignment below invites us to research, write, and preach a narrative sermon on the night Elijah ran from Queen Jezebel. As your congregation listens to you week after week, may they hear, see, sense, and feel the biblical story, even as Spurgeon’s congregations did.—Editors.


This assignment, based on a Bible story, is one of four narrative sermon outlines prepared by Richard Duerksen.3


Elijah running from Jezebel (1 Kings 19)

Key thoughts

• HALT. Never make big decisions when Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Elijah did when experiencing all four—and ran from the threat of danger.

• We all run. Some run from angry queens, others from bad debts, sickness, meaningless jobs, and unhappy families.

• We never run alone. God always runs with us, providing strength, cool water, warm bread, and new jobs.


• Distance and topography from Jezreel to Beersheba
• How to avoid cities on the run
• How marathon runners keep going after “hitting the wall”


• Fear

• Running with a friend

• Being abandoned by the friend
• Running alone
• Exhaustion
• Fear (of the angel—who at first looked a lot like one of Jezebel’s warriors)
• Self-incrimination on the walk to Horeb
• Awe at God’s new jobs

Purple passages (phrases that clarify emotions and paint a picture)

• “He was lonely, but not alone. His servant slept beside him, along with the homeless beggars of Jezreel, huddled into the wall for strength.”
• “The next day was the hardest. The pain was greater, the thirst leaving his lips cracked and bleeding, the loneliness adding weights of bronze to his ankles. He didn’t run far.”
• “On the final evening, when he finally slumped into the shade of the peak, he felt at least three days beyond dead.”

Good spots to insert your own stories

• Elijah and his servant running. “We all run . . .

• Elijah leaving Beersheba alone. “The devil is strongest when we feel alone . . .”

• Elijah’s surprise at the angel’s presence. “When God shows up, He often brings breakfast . . .”
• Elijah, face to the wind, following a trail strewn with fire-seared boulders, following God, walking off toward heaven. “Some of us run many times . . .”

1 Charles E. Bradford, Preaching to the Times: The Preaching Ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1975), 75.

2 Bradford, Preaching, 75, 76.

3 Find the other narrative sermon outlines by Richard Duerksen at

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September 2019

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