Often, when I travel to different parts of the country, people quickly spot my Midwestern/South side of Chicago way of talking. The way we speak and act can often “give us away,” as when Peter denied Jesus after the bystanders said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” (Matthew 26:73) The big question is, can people spot us as being citizens of the Kingdom of God? Does the way we talk and act give us away?
One of the ways we “speak” in the Kingdom of God is through stories, namely the parables of Jesus, which reveal the logic and language of the Kingdom. Jesus uses these powerful stories to “take us out of our comfort zone and transport us to the fringes of reality—the threshold between our world and the kingdom of God—where the difference between our thoughts and our ways and those of God is mournfully clear.” (Dr. Matthew Halbach, “What Parables Can Teach the Synod Fathers and the Church Today,” Catechetical Leader, March, 2015)
The parables of Jesus prod our imaginations and enable us to see not only our present reality, but another reality beyond it: the Kingdom of God, a reality that can only be seen with the eyes of faith. Jesus’ parables are an integral part of his revealing of the Kingdom, along with his other teachings, healings, and miracles. The parables enable us to put on the mind of Christ. This is the essence of evangelization: to offer a different vision of what life is all about. Here are nine ways that parables serve as an effective evangelizing tool. Parables invite us:
- to consider an alternate reality.
- into a relationship with the storyteller.
- to encounter the mind of God.
- to a counterintuitive way of thinking.
- to embrace a future that is underway and can’t be stopped.
- to follow Jesus more closely.
- to repentance.
- to deepen our commitment.
- to enter into a story.
Here are two great resources by Amy Welborn for telling the stories of the Bible, especially the parables:
For help in becoming a better storyteller, check out Chapter 7 of The Catechist’s Backpack: Spiritual Essentials for the Journey by Joe Paprocki and Julianne Stanz. Also check out this previous post on storytelling.