Healing Through Story: Exploring the Use of Storytelling Preaching as a Means for Healing a Congregation
This project explores a preaching approach to healing a congregation that has experienced serious conflict within the church. Through the use of storytelling preaching, this project studies the ability of a story to break through the emotional barriers and deep-seated fears within a congregation. The goal of this project was to guide congregants toward overcoming their fears associated with major church conflict. This project is a qualitative study that utilized guided group discussions and a six-week sermon series to promote healing across a congregation. The sermon series exclusively and purposefully used a storytelling approach to preaching. Group discussions occurring before and after the sermon series provided data about the amount of church-related fear experienced by the participants and the progress made at the conclusion of the sermon series. This project guided the congregation to engage biblical stories throughout the sermon series that focused on overcoming fear associated with crises, conflict, and change. Hearing these stories helped people remember their own stories and embrace God’s call on their lives and the life of their church. The results indicate that storytelling preaching is a useful tool for helping a congregation moved beyond their fears and into a season of healing and hope. The project participants exhibited decreased levels of fear and a healthier understanding of their fear. They also demonstrated a much higher level of hope about their church and its future. Further study is needed to truly understand the full potential of combining group discussions with sermons to create a healing atmosphere and culture throughout the congregation.
Collins, Robert Don