Your Story: Does it Belong in the Pulpit?

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"Does telling your own story

in this sermon for these people

point listeners towards God

or towards you, the preacher?"


That's the question we ask ourselves every time we consider using a personal story in a sermon.

Preachers and professors have been weighing in on this question for a long time.

For example, in support of sharing personal stories, Rolf Jacobson wrote:

Sometimes you have to share your own faith. When I was on my seminary internship, a member of the church said, “We need to hear more about your faith and experience in your sermon. Not too much, but don't be afraid to let some of it in." The point is there is a degree of self-disclosure in preaching that is not only appropriate, but necessary.

(Professor of Old Testament and The Alvin N. Rogness Chair of Scripture, Theology and Ministry at Luther Seminary. Working Preacher,


On the other hand, David Buttrick believed:

“‘To be blunt, there are virtually no good reasons to talk about ourselves from the pulpit.’”
(Drucilla Buffington Professor of Homiletics and Liturgics, Emeritus, at Vanderbilt University. Quoted by Tom Long, The Witness of Preaching, (Louisville: John Knox Press, 2005), 221).


What wisdom is offered by

Fred Craddock

Barbara Lundblad

Tom Long

John McClure

Barbara Brown Taylor

Lauren Winner

and others

to help YOU decide?


I created a FREE 13-page reference guide of collected wisdom to help you discern

  • whether personal stories belong in sermons at all
  • how to discern whether your story is the right one—and the pitfalls to avoid
  • and finally, how to tell your own story without necessarily saying "I"

Subscribe to the newsletter and get your free guide here!