Once upon a time …
Has a story ever captured you? Have you ever stayed awake into the early hours of the morning, turning page after page and thinking, “Just one more chapter …”? Perhaps you’ve felt your own interests shift as you discover a new character’s delights and hobbies, or you suddenly want to visit a new part of the world just to see if it’s as good as the story described. Maybe you’ve laughed with characters, cried for them or got so frustrated with their actions that you wanted to throw the book away forever. But for some reason you keep on coming back to stories, wanting to hear what happens until the resolution at the end.
I was one of those kids who used to get in trouble for reading after ‘lights out’ and would sometimes smuggle a torch into my bedroom just so I could see the pages more clearly. These days, though, I’m more likely to be binge-watching a Netflix series on the weekends rather than burning through torch batteries with a book in my hand. Regardless of whether it’s a book or a screen series, I’ve realised that a good story stays with us long after the book is closed or the screen goes dark.
Why are stories so important, though?
We are people of stories. We understand and process our own lives through the stories we remember and tell. We learn about the world through the stories of others. Social gatherings are full of shared and exchanged stories as we reflect on life together. Stories help us remember information, but they shape us and our thinking, too.
In his 2020 book Hide and Seek, Benson Fraser said that in our current age, the church has “greatly favoured proposition above narrative, fact over testimony, science more than art, and mind above body”. But the world around us seems to be heading in opposite directions. According to a recent Australian government report, 79 per cent of Australians now have access to at least one online streaming service. By contrast, only 14 per cent have access to a paid news subscription. Both provide stories, of a sort. But it seems our desire for narrative and entertainment trumps our desire to pay for information on our world.
So what does this tell us about proclaiming the good news of God’s Story?
In the beginning, God …
When God first wanted to communicate with us, he told a story. And another. And another. As we read this story, we don’t just hear a plot with characters, we learn about who God is and who we are, and what’s gone wrong with the world we see around us. We learn ethics and principle and doctrine and history. But even more importantly than that, we meet the living God and hear of his plans for this creation he made. We hear a story so good it just needs to be heard by others, too.
At SMBC’s Centre for Preaching & Pastoral Ministry, the Word of God is our guide, our delight, our final authority and our prized tool for ministry. As a college focussed on ministry outcomes, we want our graduates to communicate this word with love and skill.
We seek to equip and inspire our students to pursue deep and transformative biblical knowledge, understanding and application. We provide opportunities for students to discover cultural wisdom and communication skills that connect well with our story-oriented generation.
The Centre provides Advanced Preaching Workshops, a Christian Mentoring Course, studies in leadership, resilience and pastoral care, preaching tutorials, conferences and seminars. Each Wednesday, at our Principal’s Hour, we showcase Bible-centred preaching – and you can get a taste by watching or podcasting.
If you have a passion for preaching and pastoral ministry, SMBC’s Centre for Preaching & Pastoral Ministry offers you a wide range of training and study options, both on-campus and off-campus (live online) for the beginner and the experienced pastor.
‘Learn more about the SMBC Centre for Preaching & Pastoral Ministry‘