Storytelling

Past, Future, and Present: A Ministry Journey Unstuck in Time

Author
Ryan James Lawrence Dr. D.Min.
Abstract
In this portfolio the writer explored his ministry journey and identity through the lens of time, looking at his past, future, and present, in order to plot a course forward. In considering his past he examined how his theology of preaching had arisen out of his experiences and the relationship between biography and theology. In considering his future, he explored how the imagination could be used to help lead people and institutions to new horizons. In considering his present he researched how the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted preachers in his denomination, The Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec (CBOQ), and how group story sharing could be used to aid in their healing and recovery. The research portion of this portfolio used a narrative study, the heart of which was a focus group meeting of five pastors, followed up by interviews in which participants contributed to the evaluation of the project. The key finding was that participants endured many common struggles and hardships, including the experience of “preaching into a void,” which described the hardship of speaking without a connection to one’s audience. Sharing their stories helped participants to understand and normalize these experiences, aiding in their healing.

EXAMINATION OF THE USE OF FIRST-PERSON NARRATIVE PREACHING IN THE PUBLIC WORSHIP SERVICE

Author
Brian Olson D.Min.
Abstract
This project set out to examine and evaluate the use of first-person narrative as a possible alternative option to be included in a regular rotation for preaching in a public worship service. It also set out to examine the process of developing the sermon. It also set out to determine if it can be used to effectively communicate the biblical message to a post-Christian, entertainment-oriented culture without compromising its faithfulness to the message of Scripture?

The research was done on the Biblical and theological foundations of preaching to accomplish these goals. An evaluation of current literature on the subject was conducted. A system of evaluating existing sermons was developed and implemented. A sermon was produced and presented in the first-person narrative mode. Survey feedback was received from individuals who were present for the sermon. The surveys from the sermon produced for the project and the earlier evaluated sermons were processed to reach the goals and determine the proper steps for moving forward.

A key understanding derived from the study was that first-person narrative preaching is often mistakenly viewed as lightweight storytelling. The reality is that it is more work than a traditional sermon. It requires that same work for those sermons, but it also requires a heightened understanding of the Biblical story's cultural, sociological, and personal attributes.

Also learned was the importance of story as a means to communicate truth. We teach theology to children through stories, and these same stories can teach the truth to adults. In the west, we have become convinced that science and facts are the most important things and that these are the way to communicate truth. But in much of the world and history, story was the primary means of communicating truth.

Asian Immigrant Women Building Spiritual Resilience Amidst Cultural Loss

Author
Eugenia Wei-Kuen Lai D.Min.
Abstract
In Asian cultural contexts, women's voices are often neglected, unnoticed, or actively suppressed in church and society. This thesis-project aims to examine the relationship between the spiritual well-being and the praxes of resilience engaged in by Asian immigrant women to the United States in the context of cultural loss. The interview outcome revealed the praxes of spiritual resilience of Asian immigrant women through their integration of faith and culture. Spiritual resilience is an ongoing living praxis that calls men and women to their prophetic calling in building up the kingdom of God, in whom Jesus is the Triumphant Living Praxis.

Ray Charles by the roadside : a study in narrative preaching

Author
Dann A Stouten
Abstract
The purpose for doing this study is to introduce narrative homiletics to a broader audience of preachers. It is my hope to add to the diversity in our pulpits by offering an alternate sermon type that is simple to follow, and yet offers a variegated texture and feel through the use of the six different models.

I believe a working definition of narrative preaching would help clarify things at this point. Mine is as follows: Any sermon that follows a plot or story line and begins with a discrepancy and then wrestles with the ambiguities and ultimately concludes with God's final solution. The thesis of this project is that narrative preaching can be learned like spelling or arithmetic or your ABC's if the student is willing to follow a three step pattern of: imbalance, analysis, and solution.

The first step involves stating the discrepancy, the second step is an analysis of the ambiguities and the third step is finding God's solution to the problem.

We use six different sermon models entitled: Recasting the Story, Redating the Story, Remembering the Story, Retelling the Story, Reacting to the Story and Rethinking the Story, along with a running commentary and a listener evaluation form to analyze and demonstrate how narrative preaching can be done.

Dwelling in the Word and in the World: Missional Engagement Through Storytelling

Author
John Foster Magnuson D.Min.
Abstract
The practice of Church mission engagement within a culture of specialization, individuality, and volunteerism has created the opportunity for the North American Protestant church to narrate mission through an identity and story of the individual. However, through the practice of reading scripture and reflecting alongside storytelling, a more robust missional identity can be found within the church. This identity through storytelling moves from viewing church members as an autonomous individual into seeing both church members and neighbors as necessary members of community, together participating in God’s mission in the world through companionship with God and one another. This work moves from a historical background of mission work within a local congregation to then explore the theological basis for connecting storytelling alongside biblical engagement in congregational mission. As a result of the project, a tool for missional story telling through scripture is presented to the reader.

God’s story, our story : a narrative approach for discovery of congregational identity and purpose

Author
Steven E Slagel
Abstract
Many North American Mennonite churches live in a climate of confusion and anxiety struggling to understand who they are and why they exist. This project explores how a congregation’s self-understanding is shaped by stories they tell and live. The context for this project was my ministry leadership in three Mennonite congregations during pastor transitions. I started the project by researching ecclesiological themes of importance to these congregations: sixteenth-century Anabaptism, missional ecclesiology, and narrative theology. I crafted and implemented a process of engagement utilizing these themes allowing congregations to take steps toward discovering identity, purpose, and a hopeful future. I conducted ethnographic research and facilitated congregational interaction with their stories, ecclesiological themes, and the defining narrative of scripture. This resulted in a narrative summary, written identity, and purpose statement for each congregation. The outcome of this narrative approach for ecclesiological understanding is seen in the clear, hope-filled identity and purpose statements developed by these three Mennonite congregations.

Story as theological form

Author
Adam Navis
Abstract

I have always been more moved—and to more lasting effect—by stories than by the sub-genres of non-fiction, including sermons, biblical commentary, philosophical argument, or self-help. I had this gut feeling that Christians should take stories more seriously, but I couldn’t articulate to my satisfaction why I felt this way. I wanted to know why stories capture our imagination. What does it mean to call a story a Christian story? And perhaps most importantly, how can we, as individuals and the Church, learn to tell better stories?

I began by studying the writing process. I compared popular Christian writers with students and faculty at Western Theological Seminary in order to understand the habits, attitudes, and beliefs of good Christian writers. Then I sought a way to develop these characteristics in other people. I did this by marrying the writing pedagogy of Peter Elbow with traditional Christian spiritual disciplines to create an explicitly Christian writing process. Only then did I move on to address the rhetorical, sychological, social, and theological aspects (and advantages) of the story form.

Yet the final, most important, and most vulnerable step was to put it all into practice: to write a story about what it means to be a Christian and a writer. This was not secondary or merely illustrative, but the inevitable conclusion of my work. After all, it would be ironic and hypocritical to celebrate the form of the story and then neglect to use its power.

Quest for the perfect sermon : Gospel-centered, story-shaped preaching

Author
Kent Landhuis
Abstract

Preaching has taken it on the chin in recent years. The value of sermons is suspect. And yet, I serve a congregation where listeners gather every week with a sense of expectation that they will hear God speak to them through the sermon. I am curious about how this expectation develops and how this expectation shapes the congregation. In my context, we emphasize gospel and storytelling in sermons, and so a focus on gospel-centered, story-shaped preaching narrowed the scope of my project. The first step of my exploration attempted to define the gospel. Next, I looked at storytelling. Finally, I looked at preaching and how it shapes listeners within my congregation, Cedar Hills Community Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In the final stage of exploration, I convened three collaborative study groups to study preaching texts, discuss sermon preparation and evaluate sermons. I used a narrative inquiry research approach to collect feedback formally from the study groups and informally from the congregation. By listening carefully to the stories the congregation told, I explored this thesis: gospel-centered, story-shaped preaching shapes listeners so that they will be equipped to share the story of Jesus in a way that invites others to lean in and say, “Tell me more.” After spending so much time in a story-rich environment, it made sense to report on the project with a story.

Sudden illness and storytelling : identifying spiritual resilience in a liminal space : a phenomenological and narrative research project

Author
Donna Marie Field
Abstract
More often than not, medicine has a dominant script of progressive treatment of a disease with the ultimate end goal being a cure, with full function. But this does not take into consideration that the patient’s perception of quality of life is at stake during the treatment journey. While healthcare providers will discover in their assessments the patients they treat have a form of faith, once the patient brings the words out into the open, some providers don’t know what to do. What does a provider do when the patient’s God language impinges upon the proposed treatment plan? Many providers recognize these words as those of hope, and no provider wants to trample on whatever
hope the patient is expressing; that is considered cruel and not good medicine.
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