All Jesus did that day was tell stories—a long storytelling afternoon. Matthew 13:34 (MSG)

Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. Matthew 13:34 (NLT)

Again Jesus used stories as illustrations when he spoke to them. He said, Matthew 22:1 (GW)

Where to find good stories

I try to spend about half the time I spend in preparation in formal preparation–reading commentaries and what not. The other half I try to spend in reading trade books. I try to read story-rich authors–people like John Ortberg, John Maxwell and John Ortberg. Did I mention John Ortberg? I really like him.

I used to listen to a lot of cassettes, back in the day. Then, CDs, now podcasts. Great thing about podcasts: they are free! Who doesn’t like free? I have listened to every sermon John Ortberg and Andy Stanley have preached in the last five years. All free, delivered to my IPOD.

If you are not familiar with Podcasts, here is the short course. Go to Download ITunes. Go to the store. Don’t let the word store freak you out, you are not going to buy anything. Keep your credit card in your wallet.

Search for John Ortberg. Click on the podcast tab. Click subscribe. That is it. You are done.

Of course, it really helps to have some kind of portable listening device like an IPOD. Then, every time you plug it in, it automatically goes out and gets the latest sermons. It deletes the ones you have listened to and adds the new ones. As you might guess, all these settings are customizable, but this is the short course.

You are going to hear some great stories you are going to want to use in your group. How do you find them?


Ever hear the funny story about this preacher who mixed up every story in the Bible into one hilarious combobulated combination of a story? Toward the end it says, “Chunk her down, boys, chunk her down!”

Google this (include the quotations marks; that means, “this phrase exactly”): “chunk her down.”

I did it just now and the number one listing was this one:

An older preacher told the story of a young minister interviewing for his first pastorate. The Pulpit Committee had invited him to come over to their church for the interview. The committee chairman asked, “Son, do you know the Bible pretty good?”

The young minister said, “Yes, pretty good.” The chairman asked, “Which part do you know best?” He responded saying, “I know the New Testament best.” “Which part of the New Testament do you know best,” asked the chairman. The young minister said, “Several parts.” The chairman said, “Well, why don’t you tell us the story of the Prodigal Son.” The young man said, “Fine.”

“There was a man of the Pharisees name Nicodemus, who went down to Jericho by night and he fell upon stony ground and the thorns choked him half to death.

“The next morning Solomon and his wife, Gomorrah, came by, and carried him down to the ark for Moses to take care of. But, as he was going through the Eastern Gate into the Ark, he caught his hair in a limb and he hung there forty days and forty nights and he afterwards did hunger. And, the ravens came and fed him.

“The next day, the three wise men came and carried him down to the boat dock and he caught a ship to Ninevah. And when he got there he found Delilah sitting on the wall. He said, “Chunk her down, boys, chunk her down.” And, they said, “How many times shall we chunk her down, till seven time seven?” And he said, “Nay, but seventy times seven.” And they chucked her down four hundred and ninety times.

“And, she burst asunder in their midst. And they picked up twelve baskets of the leftovers. And, in the resurrection whose wife shall she be?”

The Committee chairman suddenly interrupted the young minister and said to the remainder of the committee, “Fellows, I think we ought to ask the church to call him as our minister.

He is awfully young, but he sure does know his Bible.”

What a time to be alive!  What a time to be a teacher! Every story you have ever heard indexed for you and available free, any time day or night! WOW!

Good Stories and Good Questions

Even though this is true, this is, perhaps, the most time consuming part of my preparation. I read though lots of stories to give my subscribers the best of stories that they can use in their lessons. If you would like your lessons to really come alive, you can do so for $4 a month.  Every lesson has 20 or so questions, quotes from great commentaries, and great stories that make your lesson come alive.

There you have it: six marks of sticky communication:

1. Simplicity
2. Unexpectedness
3. Concreteness
4. Credibility
5. Emotions
6. Stories

I’d like to add one more. And, happily, it fits the acrostic:

Say Something

Say something: get people to confess the truth. We are changed more by what we say than by what we hear. That is the topic of next week’s article.