Gospel-music legend Wendy Bagwell was known as much for his story-telling as for his musical ability. His story “Here Come the Rattlesnakes” is an example of his home-spun humor that entertained millions. No doubt about it, “Bro.” Wendy could tell a story.
His favorite catch-phrase was, “And that’s a fact with my hand up.” That familiar assurance produced a laugh because you knew that Wendy was engaged in comedic storytelling. There existed an unspoken, but mutual understanding between the comedian and his audience that allowed some dramatic (or comedic) license with the details of the story.
Some pastors seem to feel they have the same privilege. They leave behind the realm of dramatic story telling, crossing the ever-so-thin line into embellishment. From there it’s only a short distance to outright fabrication.
Once a pastor, teacher or preacher is discovered to have played fast and loose with the facts, a vital sense of trust is lost. Whether by carelessness, negligence, or outright lying, you never can be sure if what they say actually happened or if you are being played – emotionally manipulated to achieve their purpose. In the end, it’s their otherwise-valid message that suffers.
I use illustrations and dramatic stories in my preaching. However, since my message is rooted in the greatest story ever told, I can ill-afford to lose my credibility as a pastor through negligence with the facts.
And that IS a fact with my hand up.