In my Fall 2017 Introduction to Preaching class, my students experimented with writing microfiction to sharpen the homiletical skill of telling powerful, evocative stories in sermons with an economy of words. The stories the students created were not intended to be used in a sermon but instead their themes and language were suggested by random writing prompts (some quite off the wall) I provided them.
Microfiction and its longer sibling, flash fiction, are not especially new, but have gained a vigorous interest with the way the internet and social media, especially Twitter, invite writers/communicators and readers to value small chunks of expressions at a time. Preachers interested in exploring microfiction in more depth might want to tune in to Microfiction Monday Magazine. This weekly online publication accepts stories that are only 100 words or less. For our class exercise, the students shaped stories that were 200 words or less.
Good storytelling is a skill preachers need to cultivate in order to offer the good news with power and in a way that is concrete and incarnational. Experimenting with microfiction, I believe, is a way for good storytellers to become better preachers.
Below are the students’ microstories (presented alphabetically by author). In them you will be exposed to a range of themes, tones, and emotions. And perhaps when you read them, like me, you will find yourself drawn into the stories in such a way that your imagination lights up at the thought of the genre being used in preaching. Thanks to my students for their willingness to share their experiment with the homiletical world.
—O. Wesley Allen, Jr.