This article is by Marie Burrus. Marie served in West Africa, and during her time there focused on Bible storying. She brings that expertise to the blog today to give a crash course so that anyone can begin using this technique engaging people groups here in the US.
In the world of missions, strategies are constantly evolving to meet needs. However, this rapid change means most people have a hard time keeping up with terminology. Words like engagement, CPMs, and Storying are tossed around with little explanation. Often, I find myself using these terms only to be met with blank stares. If that’s you, never fear. We’ll work through at least one of these together.
This article is meant to better inform you about “Storying.” Consider it your Storying 101.
What is Storying?
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Storying is a way of presenting the Bible as oral literature.[/pullquote]
Storying is a way of presenting the Bible as oral literature. Instead of reading scripture like a textbook, it tells and relates its stories like one would relate their family history. It began as a means to address the needs of illiterate people, but has expanded as we realize that even very well educated people prefer oral presentations.
- It engages a person’s senses and “puts flesh on” God’s Word. When storying, people hear and speak the Bible, see emotion expressed by the storyteller, act it out with their own body, and use God-given imagination to situate them in the story. It’s an educator’s dream as it involves many more of a learner’s senses.
- It’s interactive and fun. A story is told. Someone facilitates questions, and people get to dialogue about what it means. Depending on the group, one may create songs, charts, dances, henna designs, or paintings to help remember a story.
- It allows God’s Word to speak to people unhindered. Those who are suspicious or unfamiliar with the Bible are more open to hearing a story than studying verses.
- It’s both structurally simple and theologically profound. It’s the way Jesus and the gospel writers taught. They used stories and parables to relate the Kingdom of God both to common and well-educated people.
How does one story?
There are two main categories of Bible stories: broad and narrow.
- Broad storying attempts to run a “gospel thread” or connecting theme through the entire Bible narrative in one, relatively short story. This kind of storying is most effective for general evangelism and can be presented to a person with little commitment on their end. For example, this is how Peter, Stephen, and Paul introduced Christ to people in Acts.
- Narrow storying breaks down the Bible and focuses on one specific story at a time. This kind of storying is most effective for discipleship or regular study a person has agreed to do. Chronological Bible Storying is a good example of this style.
General narrow story session:
- Tell the story
- Ask about the story, detail-by-detail. “What happened first? Then…? Then…?”
- Ask individuals to retell the whole story
- Act the story out
Discuss the meaning of the story with questions:
- What do you like about the story?
- What do you not like (or find confusing) about the story?
- What does this story teach us about mankind?
- What does this story teach us about God?
- How does this apply to your life?
- Who can you tell this story to?