A colleague of mine told me about a story-telling website. "It's called the Moth" he said. "People get up and tell their own stories, and its become very popular. Maybe we can do something similar here." After a while, I finally checked it out (https://themoth.org) and now I listen whenever I can.
What further caught my attention was the sentence in the sign-off at the end of the broadcast: "The Moth Radio Hour is co-produced by Jay Allison at Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and presented by PRX."
This is close to home!
I went to the website and found the section that offers Storytelling Tips & Tricks. Perfect, I thought, maybe this will help my preaching.
There, in their guidelines, is the reason that I keep listening to the stories of so many different people: Stakes. "What do you stand to gain or lose? Why is what happens in the story important to you? If you can’t answer this, then think of a different story."
I don't know what I stand to gain or lose when I preach - I haven't thought much about it until now, although I have told some vulnerable stories from the pulpit. Just asking the question is to inject a sermon with immediacy and urgency, as does 'why is what happens in the story important to me'.
Now, as I listen to other peoples' stories, I listen to the content. And I listen for the why. So that when I tell our story from the pulpit, you will know that something is at stake and hear the why as well.