Helps for Successful Storying
Teaching every story in the Bible, a list of all the
major truths, a theological system, or to completing a series of stories
is not the goal of storying! If learning, understanding, and clear
communication are kept at the center of what you are doing, you will
have success. Some of the things required or suggested for successful
Patience and diligence
Donít get in a hurry. Donít plan other events after
storying time. Oral listeners are not usually in a hurry. Allow plenty
of time for the people to gather and get settled in.
Plan on repeating yourself. Some people will come late. Others
will want to hear the story again. Some may want to tell a story for
you. The goal is learning and storying is interactive learning.
Review, Review, Review. Most people will not know a story until
they have heard it three times.
Get the people to give the review. Pick previous hearers and get
them to repeat what they can remember, with hints from you or other
hearers. Don't forget to compliment those who remember the stories and
Evaluate. Do not assume that hearers have learned a story just
because they can answer questions immediately after the story. How much
they can remember from week to week is much more important!
Accept interruptions. Babies will cry. People will come or leave.
Hearers will discuss the story among themselves. The listeners do not
bother about interruptions, so we should not allow them to bother us!
Donít get upset when your language is corrected. Be a learner
too! If someone interprets what you say into better language, so be it.
Learn from what they say! There is nothing more important than clear
presentation of the Gospel. Anything we can do to improve our
presentation is good.
Mastery of the story
Prepare! No matter how familiar the story is to you, you'll
give a better presentation if you study the story before telling it.
You MUST know the story. If you cannot remember the story,
with your background and studies of the Bible, it is unlikely that the
hearers will remember it.
Try NOT to use notes. Using notes adds an air of artificiality.
Notes can inhibit innovation. Presentations that are complicated enough
to require notes are probably too complicated for oralists to follow and
Do everything you can to make the story interesting. Can you imagine listening to a preacher who preaches
without changing his voice, follows an outline rigidly, or reads
his sermon in a monotone? People donít listen long to presentations
that are not interesting. They will remember much better that which
has been presented captivatingly.
Use Drama, acting, different voices, movement, and
props to improve your presentation. Often I
will get a listener to help me as I direct them to act out a small part
of the story. Don't be shy!
Emphasize what is important.
For example, in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the sins of the city
are less important than Godís rescue of Lot and his daughters and
the results of his wifeís disobedience. If you do much more than
mention the more-colorful aspects of some stories, thatís what your
hearers will remember. Focus on the truths in every story.
Pictures and non-abstract items can add to the story and serve as
visual reminders of truths. God used many visual aids in the Bible such
as the Lordís Supper and the Tephilim, the little
scripture-boxes the Israelites wore on their heads and wrists. Here are
a few ideas for your use of visual aids:
The pictures on the scarf were designed to communicate the
subject of the stories without being distracting. They are simple, so
the hearers can grasp the picture quickly. The pictures are
consistent, so main characters can be followed from frame to frame.
And, they are designed to help people in less-developed areas identify
with biblical characters by incorporating common items they should
Printed pictures can be a great help or a great distraction.
Think color and large. Pictures illustrating the first
few stories often have fascinating animals, nudity, and violence
associated with them. Show the pictures briefly and then place them
face down in your lap, especially the pictures involving nudity. Or,
pass the pictures around and let them be looked at and discussed
thoroughly before starting that part of the story. There is no need to
tell the story while hearers are engrossed in a picture.
Objects from the listener's everyday lives are also
useful. How strong an impression the crucifixion makes if they can
hold a large nail and feel how sharp it is! They may remember the
story of the feeding of the 5,000 when they see bread and fish! A mud
brick may help them identify with the Israelites in Egypt. Keep the
objects simple and allow people time to hold and discuss them.
Scripture should be treated with utmost respect. If you read
the scripture associated with each story, do not lay the Bible on the
ground. Your well-used personal highlighted Bible with your
hand-written notes is not the best thing for Muslims to see. You may
want to wash your hands, take off your shoes, or pray before reading
the scripture. Carrying your Bible in a special pouch may help Muslims
see that you honor scripture.
Muslims appreciate prayer. You should begin and end
each story time with prayer, using whatever forms are appropriate to
your hearers. I end prayer time with a time of greeting, smiling, and
shaking hands as is the custom of Muslims -- a custom we could use in
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