FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Throughout the world and in this country there are many persons who can be classified as “oral learners.” Among these there are those who have not had the opportunity to learn to read, those who can read but have difficulty understanding what they read, and those who simply learn better through oral communication.
Among some unreached people groups, 80 to 90 percent cannot read and in some urban areas of America 30 to 40 percent are either illiterate or functionally illiterate.
Especially with reference to those who cannot read or do not understand what they read, we must ask the question: Is there another way to communicate the message of the Gospel to them?
The answer fortunately is affirmative. There is a method to communicate with these persons so they can understand the message, receive Christ, continue to grow in discipleship, share the message with others, and serve the Lord in a variety of ministries. This method is “Bible Storying” which simply involves telling the Bible stories so that people can hear them, understand them, apply them, and share them with others.
To acquaint people with these concepts that the Lord is blessing in so many countries, we are going to share a series of articles based on a book written by J.O. Terry titled, “A Bible Storying Model.” J.O. Terry was a missionary to the Philippines along with James Slack when they started to design the Bible Storying method. After his retirement, Terry moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where for a number of years he has been teaching Chronological Bible Storying along with Dr. Daniel R. Sanchez who is a professor of missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. (J.O. Terry initially taught this course at Southwestern in partnership with Drs. James Slack and Grant Lovejoy.) Their purpose for teaching this course and training many through workshops is to equip people to communicate the Gospel with people who not only cannot read but who listen, learn and retain differently from literate people.
It is our sincere desire that this series of articles in Baptist Press on Bible Storying will help you to increase your understanding of oral learners, to get acquainted with the concept of Bible Storying, and enable you to share the Good News of salvation with people who can only be reached through oral means. (The first stories in the series can be read here.)
Two books that can provide valuable information about Bible Storying are:
— J.O. Terry, “Basic Bible Storying,” Church Starting Network, 2000, www.churchstarting.net.
— Daniel R. Sanchez and J.O. Terry, “Bible Storying for Church Starting,” Church Starting Network, 2007, www.churchstarting.net
Daniel R. Sanchez is associate dean of the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the Scarborough Institute of Church Planting & Growth. J.O. Terry is publisher of the Bible Storying Newsletter and the Journal of Bible Storying. He was media missionary in Asia with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board from 1968-2003.