Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Learning from Story Tellers

One of the best ways to improve our story-telling ability is to listen to those who do it well.

Alan Marr is one of the most engaging story tellers I know. His communication skills are part of the reason why he is giving leadership to Baptists in Victoria, Australia. Alan is funny but he is also prophetic. He can split your sides with laughter and then say something that feels like you’re being hit over the head with a piece of four by two. He is personal but he lifts your eyes to ponder the bigger picture, including the pain of the world. He draws on biblical wisdom but his sermons come like freshly baked bread.

Alan is one of those people who can come up with a rip-roaring story like the turn of a tap. But one of his secrets is that he is always well prepared and he reads widely. Have a listen to one of his recent sermons that he gave at the Croydon Hills Baptist Church in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs. It contains old biblical stories that are told with freshness. There’s passion and how is this for an eclectic mix of quotes and stories on the theme of prayer:

From Swiss theologian, Karl Barth:
“To clasp our hands together in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”

From contemporary author, Walter Wink, in ‘The Powers that Be’:
“Intercessory prayer is spiritual defiance of what is in the way of what God has promised. Intercession visualizes an alternative future to the one apparently fated by the momentum of current forces. Prayer infuses the air of a time yet to be into the suffocating atmosphere of the present.”

From U2’s Bono, from an address at a recent Prayer Breakfast in the USA, 2006:
“A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord’s blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it…I have a family, please look after them… I have this crazy idea…”

“And this wise man said: stop. He said, “Stop asking God to bless what you’re doing. Get involved in what God is doing—because it’s already blessed. Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing. And that is what He’s calling us to do.”

The full script of Bono’s speech can be found at:

Alan’s sermon can be accessed at the following web address:

Geoff Pound

Image: Alan Marr, while on ministry in Thailand. Alan is the one with the shorter trunk.