Why Changing Perception Is Critical

“Action is not the result of intentional reasoned thought but passion.” – James K A Smith.

Smith who is a philosopher and theologian is making the point that we are primarily shaped more by the imagination than the intellect. Therefore it is the stories that we inhabit and not the arguments we believe that give our lives purpose. So:

We do not think our way through to action; much of our action is not the outcome of rational deliberation or conscious choice but our perception of the story we are in.

This has huge implications for preaching:




We act according to our formed character, our actions could be called a gut-based initiative. This character has been formed in us by our emotional take on the world around us and our practices within it, this is our PERCEPTION.

In order to change action we have to change perception. Saying, “I’m going to change,” and giving it our best effort has power, but nowhere near the power of seeing ourselves in a different story, a changed perception.

Stories have power,  if we want to change action we have to change perception.

7 Thoughts For Preaching

  1. Don’t just call people to action paint a picture: Give people a vision of them in the story of God. Show them what this is like, paint a picture of their lives in God’s will with your words.
  2. Tell your stories:
  3. Don’t spin, don’t paint pictures that don’t exist: Real life is not sugar coated. Our lives in God’s story still include trouble, chaos, challenge and disappointment but the power of Jesus within makes the difference and enables us to live lives of honour, impact and glory.
  4. Tell the stories of people known to the congregation you are addressing:
  5. Use words like ‘imagine’ and phrases like ‘what if’:
  6. Tell stories: Jesus did… and people saw how their lives could be built on a rock; produce a crop of fruitfulness 30, 60 or 100 fold; how the key component in a relationship with God is not our love for him but his unconditional and unquenchable love for us.
  7. Remember it’s all about the people: You are focussed on helping them, loving them, lifting their lives, empowering their Monday. You are not stroking your ego.