It's All in How You Tell It

Preaching First-Person Expository Messages

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Have you become bored with a faithful, yet predictable, style of preaching the Bible? If so, you may be robbing your audience, and yourself, of the joyful surprises offered by fresh, innovative preaching. 

With this clear and comprehensive guide, you can learn to make God's Word come alive through story and drama. Haddon and Torrey Robinson reveal ways to get inside the minds of biblical characters, shift the camera angles on familiar scenes of Scripture, and present a first-person expository message that will capture the attention of contemporary listeners-and energize your preaching as well.


"Haddon Robinson has done it again-given us a book that combines his deep commitments to both expository and culturally sensitive preaching. This book significantly advances our understanding and practice of the first-person narrative sermon. Preachers who put this book into practice will not only broaden their preaching repertoire but will experience all over again the power of Robinson's expository preaching method." -Rev. Duane K. Kelderman, D. Min, Vice-President for Administration and Assistant Professor of Preaching, Calvin Theological Seminary

"Stories work. Actually, good stories work when told well. Torrey and Haddon Robinson address both concerns: what makes a story good, and what makes it well told; and they do so with a terrific blend of theoretical explanation and practical illustration. They encourage the first-timer that he should, and can, preach narrative sermons. They teach the more seasoned story-teller that he should, and can, preach narrative sermons better. It's All in How You Tell It is an important read for those who want to connect with a media saturated culture that communicates in stories." -Sid Buzzell, professor of Bible exposition, Colorado Christian University

"For years, many of us have tried to preach first-person, expository messages, but we lacked instructions. Finally, the Robinsons provide rationale, guidance, and examples. Read this book and you and your listeners will see God's Word with new eyes." -Keith Willhite, Ph.D., professor of pastoral ministries, Dallas Theological Seminary

"First-person narratives in the pulpit are easy to do, but hard to do well. Most fail the biblical text, or fail artistically, or both. But now there is help. The Robinsons, father and son, give us what we need if we're to produce creative first-person narrative messages which go beyond amusement to the genuine edification only biblical exposition can provide." -Duane Litfin, president, Wheaton College

"This book will help preachers get the story straight and give the straight story to their listeners." -Scott M. Gibson, D.Phil., Director of the Center for Preaching, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"For many years first person narrative sermons in costume have been a regular part of my preaching as a pastor, seminary teacher and military chaplain. Young people and children in particular have often expressed gratitude to me for bringing the message of the Bible with such clarity and heart impact. I commend Torrey and Haddon Robinson for their concise, clear and creative guide to this challenging but powerful preaching form. The sample sermons are particularly helpful." -John W. Reed, Ph.D., Senior Professor of Pastoral Ministries, Emeritus Director, Doctor of Ministry Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

"The dynamic duo of Robinson & Robinson takes us all the way from A to Z in demonstrating how to create and then craft an expository sermon from the perspective of a biblical character. If you're bored, frustrated or tired of preaching in the same old way, pick up a copy of It's All in How You Tell It and begin to practice what it preaches. Neither you, your preaching, or your congregation will ever be the same." -Dr. Scott A. Wenig, Associate Professor of Applied Theology, Denver Seminary

"Who better to write a book on crafting narrative sermons than Torrey and Haddon Robinson. Whether you are new to preaching or have been preaching for years, this book will be an invaluable resource tool in telling the 'old story' in fresh ways to a new generation." -Dr. Joseph M. Stowell, president, Moody Bible Institute

"Mixing exegetical and historical detail with imaginative insight, the authors show how to present biblical truths in a fresh and compelling way--through first-person dramatic narratives. They skillfully take the reader through the steps--selecting the character, doing the research, determining the "stance," and developing the flow. Discussions of costuming and staging add the final touches. Their solid help, along with the excellent sample sermons, leaves the reader thinking, 'I'd like to try one of those!'" -Dr. Don Sunukjian, professor and chair, Department of Christian Ministry and Leadership, Talbot School of Theology

The Authors

  1. Haddon W. Robinson

    Haddon W. Robinson

    Haddon W. Robinson (1931-2017; PhD, University of Illinois) served as the Harold John Ockenga Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He authored numerous books, including It's All in How You Tell It and Making a...

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  2. Torrey W. Robinson

    Torrey W. Robinson

    Torrey W. Robinson, D.Min., has pastored churches in Wisconsin and New Jersey and is currently the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Tarrytown, New York.

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