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Six Days To Sunday, Part 6 – Storyboarding

Writing is one of the last components to creating your sermon. Now that you’ve spent time in reflection, listening to your background music, doing proper analysis, and getting your sermon focus and function, you’re ready for pre-writing. For me, that means creating a story board.

Storyboards are a way of attuning yourself to the plot line of the text. Doing this forces the sermon to follow the text and have it’s own plot – a beginning, middle, and end. This simple act will cure you from inflicting point-style sermons on your hearers. Think of a storyboard as you would a comic strip. ( See mine here: Sermon Storyboard)

Each box of the comic strip is a self-contained unit. It gives, just like a comic strip, a complete scene yet it does not contain the complete story. Inside the box you can appreciate the creativity, beauty, and art, of storytelling but you don’t get the entire script. At the same time, if you were to remove a single box, the plot line would not make sense. It would be disordered. Storyboards give your sermons flow while taking readers on a journey. Your entire sermon is now a story, a narrative and packs more punch for the hearers.

An early draft of a storyboard might look like this:

The story begins in the upper left-hand corner and moves left-to-right. At the end of the 3rd box (upper right-hand corner) you return to the left (just like when reading) and continue moving as before. When formulating your storyboard the first box is your “Hook” (I don’t do introductions, they take too long) and the final box is what I call “The New Bliss” – the state of things if you were to personally embrace the vision of God laid out in the text and sermon. Remember, a “New Bliss” should answer the same battery of questions each week: What would life look like if I were to take this seriously? Why do I want to do this? What should I do now? Your New Bliss is a portrait of a world only possible through a life connected to God.

Here are a few key tips when forming your storyboard:

  1. The best way to learn to storyboard is by charting others. I listen to sermons preached by others and try to storyboard their sermons. This helps me see how others are doing it. If you want to storyboard, begin with this practice.
  2. Your Hook and New Bliss should be connected. Many times the New Bliss should answer the problem or question announced in the “Hook,” though this is not my favorite approach. Better still is when the New Bliss and the Hook can be switched for one another. When you can do that you’ve kept your sermon tight.
  3. As the sermon forms, each box will develop its own content. What stories do you want to tell? Which concretizations would you like to employ? What historical and contemporary touch points do you need to highlight? Think of each box  as a “move” in the sermon. Not only will this keep your sermon close to the text, it makes it much easier to memorize. All you have to remember are 6 moves.
  4. If it doesn’t happen in the text, it shouldn’t happen in your sermon. Obviously you will incorporate humor and stories, but don’t jump around the whole Bible. Your hearers know the Bible is a big book. They don’t expect you to cover it all this Sunday. Truth be told, they don’t want you to. Stick to the text at hand. You cannot storyboard a sermon using 5 different texts with 7 different points. Allow the Bible to speak on its own terms.

These are the basic steps to creating a storyboard. For more information hop over to Amazon and buy David Buttrick’s, Homiletic Moves and Structures. It’s a must have.

How does this approach to preaching preparation sit with you? What areas still aren’t clear? Where can you help me be a better communicator?

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