Story and Plot
Updated: Jun 22
Bible stories are wonderful because they tell us what happened! A giant name Goliath challenged God’s people to a fight, nobody wanted to fight him except for David. David faced Goliath armed with his slingshot and defeated him. Stories are wonderful because they tell us what happened, what they don’t always tell us is why things happened.
What's a Plot?
Let's compare the following two statements to discover the difference between story and plot, 'the king died and then the queen died' is a story while 'the king died and then the queen died of grief' is a plot. Can you see the difference?
Stories tell us what happen by describing the action that takes place, the plot tells us why things happen by describing the thoughts and feelings, emotions and motives of characters in the story as they interact with each other.
In the story of the Samaritan woman we first see her walking alone in the heat of the mid-day sun to fetch water, we are then told that she has had five husbands and the one she is with now is not her own. To discover the plot we can ask ourselves questions like: what would the other women in her community think, feel, and say to each other about her? We can also ask: how would the Samaritan woman think and feel about herself, the way she is being treated by the other women, and what is she looking for in all these relationships?
All of these questions and many more describe the thoughts and feelings, emotions and motives of the characters in the story that help us to understand and explain why they do what they do.
What's so Important about the Plot?
It's not everyday that we fight a giant but we all know what it feels like to face an exam or a job interview or to wait for test results from the doctor. The situation may be different but the experience of fear and anxiety are the same. Understanding the thoughts and feeling, emotions and motives of the story character allows the preacher to identify other circumstances of life where we experience same. This helps the listener to identify with the character' life experience and also allows the listener to consider the character' solution to the problem. In times of fear and anxiety David put his faith and trust in God to deliver him and give him victory. So, in times of fear and anxiety we too can put our faith and trust in God to deliver us and give us victory.
Experiential preaching allows us to connect the life of the Bible story character with our own lives through shared experiences, through our shared thoughts and feeling, emotions and motives. Experiential preaching allows us to experience the problem faced by the story character, God's solution to the problem, and also the spiritual transformation of the character as they choose to follow God's will.
The story tells us what happens and the plot tells us why they happen. Together they allow us to experience the story through the life experience of the central character, what they did, why thy did it, and their spiritual growth as they learn to depend on God through Jesus.
Try it Yourself
In the story of the prodigal son from your own life experiences can you think why the prodigal son would ask his father for his share of the family fortunes and then leave home for the big city? Also, later, when everything goes wrong in his life, why does he choose to go back home?
by Pastor Trevor Thomas