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BIBLE STORYING, Article 7: Beginning a Bible Storying encounter

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the seventh in a series of 10 articles on Bible Storying being published by Baptist Press and Baptist Press en Español. The series, which is appearing each week in BP and BP en Español (www.bpnews.net/espanol), is adapted from the book, “A Bible Storying Model” by J.O. Terry. To access the BP story collection thus far of this series, go to www.bpnews.net/BPCollectionNews.asp?ID=183.

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–In beginning a Bible Storying encounter, consider:

— Using a pocket photo album. Some like to begin a casual conversation and then move it toward the family. The photo album is opened to show a picture of the storyer’s family (husband, wife, children). After some comment, the storyer mentions having another family he/she is part of. The next picture is that of one’s church showing people and not just a building. Discuss what it means to have a family like this who also love you and care for you. Then mention that we are all part of a larger family which has a problem. Turn now to Adam and Eve and their disobedience and proceed through the selected pictures to the resurrection of Jesus. Then offer an opportunity to be a part of the family of Jesus which we enter through faith in Him as God’s provision for our “family problem” — sin.

— Visiting bedside in a home or hospital. Because of the person’s illness or possible short attention span, this should be a very brief presentation which hits only the high spots and minimally in the Old Testament with major emphasis upon Jesus. At the conclusion, offer to come again and give a more in-depth presentation when the person is stronger or if other family members desire it.

— Family presentation in a home. This is a more relaxed presentation often done by women during a home visit. Many times children are present and may need to be accommodated by the choice of stories and by minimizing some of the directness of the judgment stories. This presentation may be done by prior appointment or invitation of the family. Picture booklets or small flipcharts can be a helpful way of illustrating the stories as they are told. Flipcharts have a disadvantage of having pictures already selected and locked into an order. Presentation books have an advantage in that picture books can be cut up so that individual pictures may be selected and arranged in the desired order in a clear file. That way, the presentation can be edited by adding pictures or deleting pictures according to the stories being used. And other illustrations may be used as well.

— Using a preaching poster. This approach works well for a small public gathering and can be set up in a moment by hanging the chart on some handy projection and beginning the story. It takes advantage of the elements of curiosity and surprise.

— No visual, just telling the story. The best way to get into such an opportunity is by asking questions related to origins of man and the nature of man. The objective is to raise sensitivity and to create an atmosphere of curiosity and conjecture into which the storyer says there are some stories which speak to those very questions, and then proceeds to begin the Bible story, expanding where necessary, and skipping over parts to keep the narrative lively and moving toward the story of Jesus.

— Keeping the storying on a win/win basis. Avoid debate with the listeners. If you are challenged at some point in the story, tell the listeners that is what God had recorded in the Bible. And you are not free to change the story. Some circumstances may require letting some with strong objection have an opportunity to tell their story after you finish yours. You will need to trust the power of God’s Word over the words and account of man.

If questions do arise and can be answered briefly, you may choose to do so. Beware of people with “pet” questions and trick questions. Others may ask questions in an attempt to demonstrate what they know about the Bible. Try to overlook these or simply thank the person and continue on. Sometimes you can answer a sincere question with a question or with reference to another story, hopefully one that has already been covered.
J.O. Terry is publisher of the Bible Storying Newsletter and the Journal of Bible Storying. He was a media missionary in Asia with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board from 1968-2003. 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.

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  • J.O. Terry & Daniel R. Sanchez