June 27, 2012

Stories Include

As we engage in discovery Bible studies and oral Bible studies, one thing I keep noticing is the way Bible stories grab everyone.

In one of our weekly meeting households there is a teenager with some kind of emotional/social issue. He can become violent suddenly, or experience an emotion that doesn’t fit the moment. He has trouble talking to people directly and almost never makes eye-contact. He is extremely intelligent and loves to read and use the computer, more than interacting with people.

He often has to be physically forced to sit with the family to participate in the Bible study and has tried several times to run away as soon as it get started. However, once we start listening to the Bible passage in order to learn it by heart and tell it to each other. He gets quiet. Once we start telling the passage to one another, he participates. Once we start talking about the story, he identifies with it. A transformation occurs. It is temporary, but amazing.

He starts talking in multiple sentences, instead of short phrases. He starts looking at people when they talk and when he talks to them. He smiles. He talks to his parents about how he will obey the scripture and how they can help. He really engages.

Then by the time we close with prayer, he is back in his shell and ready to run away to the other room.

(He wants to be baptized now. Not in a church, however. He wants to be baptized in a river.)

June 18, 2012

Quick Bible Storying Workshop

I was invited to do a quick regional training workshop for a Foursquare Gospel Church the week before last.

Since, I didn't have a lot of time, just a couple of hours, I started off with a sample storying session. I told the story of the the paralytic and the crowded house (the first twelve verses of Mark 2).  This served as a model of the the 5 parts of a Simply the Story style presentation.

After we had finished the storying session and discussion, nearly everyone was impressed that they could use storying in their respective ministries. I then walked them through the 5 steps and how to do each one, reminding them from the example how we did it.

Here are the 5 steps. 

  1. Tell the Story. - Tell the scripture in an accurate, unbroken way. 
  2. Retell the Story. - Invite someone to tell the story back.  
  3. Step through the Story. - Take everyone through the story again as a group, telling with pauses for the participants to supply details. (there are some other techniques there too.)  
  4. Look for Spiritual Treasures - Using questions help participants make observations of the events in the story that have some spiritual or theological significance.  
  5. Make Personal Applications. - Using questions, help the participants to connect some of their spiritual observations to their own lives and situations, and decide on ways to put the scripture into practice.
After we went over the steps, I helped them use a very simple technique to learn a passage of scripture by heart. I asked a volunteer to read the Scripture story of the man with the withered hand (Luke 6:6-11). She read it and all listened. Then, I had them tell the story to one another in pairs, as best as they could remember it.

Afterwards, I had the volunteer read it again, but asked them to pay attention to see if there was anything they left out, added, or changed in the story. Once the passage was re-read, I asked them to share what they noticed. Several pointed out key words or portions of the story and others nodded in agreements. I asked them to tell the story again to their partners.

Once they had told the story the second time, most were feeling much more confident about their passage. We did the reading one more time, made a few more "I forgot this" observations, and then I asked everyone to find a new partner and tell the story again. This time every was confident they could tell the story well.

Finally, even though we were out of time, I shared with the group how using simple instructions and a handful of volunteers, a story could be dramatized. I asked for 5 to come to the front. I simply said, "You will be Jesus, You will be the man with the withered hand, and you will be the religious leaders. Without speaking act out the story as you hear it told." I then called for someone to tell the story.

The narrator told it well, and the volunteers all did their parts with enthusiasm. It was simple and engaging. We had to stop there, as we were out of time.