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Storytelling: How a Pastor Used the Historic Feud of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s

Last week I wrote about storytelling gone wrong. Let me share a more encouraging storytelling example. A few weeks ago our pastor gave an inspiring and challenging sermon using a very clear, well known story. He started his sermon by showing this photo.


This is ‘Devil Anse’ Hatfield.



If you’ve followed TV trends, you’re probably aware that the History channel made its own history with the premier of “Hatfield and McCoys” – a three episode series. With an encore of 13.9 million viewers, it became the most-watched show on a cable network (sports events aside). The series depicted the bloody feud between the Hatfield and McCoy families between 1863 and 1891.


Now you’re probably asking, “How is this an encouraging story?”


A few Sundays ago our pastor’s message was about the tendency to choose being right over being loving. He explained that the Hatfield and McCoy feud seemingly began over a dispute over a hog. Randall McCoy, head of the McCoy family, accused a Hatfield of stealing his pig while he was at war. Tensions grew, bred hate, and the rest is history.


He transitioned from the compelling relevant story to drive home this point:



What are the ‘hogs’ in your life that you’re fixated on?

Are you clinging to being right? Is it worth it?

Are we letting being right trump being loving?



I cried as we finished watching the last episode (that shouldn’t surprise anyone). But here’s why… it was all so senseless. Hate is ugly. Vengeance is ugly. And no one won. We have this vivid image of a dirty old hog, hardly worth fighting for, that became the catalyst to a bloody senseless feud that lasted over 28 years. And his message lingers: What’s your ‘hog’?

Using this story made his message memorable.

Keep telling stories.

Make them concise and relevant. Use clear word pictures. Stories are powerful tools to influence, motivate, or inspire your audiences.


My final tip? Don’t pick a fight with your neighbors over a hog!





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