This article offers some helpful advice for storytelling which can also be helpful for preachers. In particular, the benefit of using the present tense. I discussed this a bit with my group at Licensing School this year, about how present tense can draw in the listener, mainly because it creates an environment where one feels they are a part of a living story. So then,
“Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He rode on a donkey as the crowd cheered for him and …”
“Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the adulation of the crowd, riding upon a donkey when …”
“Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus and called out to him, saying …”
“Jesus approaches the tomb of Lazarus and calls out to him, saying …”
Even when the preacher is relating a personal anecdote, using the present tense can be a means of being invitational, of inviting the listener into the story as it happens, as opposed to relating something that happened long before the listener was present.