The Persuasive Power of Story

There are some who strongly object to a preacher using anything that might persuade or convince unless it is the cold logic of a syllogism. Some make exception for the quoting of the Bible as an authoritative text, but they consider a heart-moving story as manipulation. They fear the preacher has sold out to the hucksters of Madison Avenue’s “hidden persuaders.”

Is there a distinction to be made between shameful manipulation and acceptable persuasion? If so, where do you draw the line? It is a fact of twenty-first century life that western civilization is no longer moved by logical arguments. Instead we make life-shaping decisions based on emotional appeal.

It has become a cliche to critique the pastor’s sermon illustrations as “tear-jerking stories.” Is it OK for a speaker to move the listener to laughter but not to tears? Tell me where you draw the line.


About The Author

Most of my life has been as a pastor of Southern Baptist churches. Preaching, teaching and writing have been the major emphases of my ministry. It has long been my prayer that my mature years might be given more to teaching and writing. Especially do I want to help young pastors in sharpening their preaching and other ministry skills.