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BIBLE STORYING, Article 9: Telling the story

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the ninth 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 Bible Storying, beyond knowing the background scriptures for each story, you might read a scripture passage for each story to anchor it in the Bible. When you tell the story, the listeners will hear the Bible passage as part of the story. This is one way in which we authenticate the story.

The scripture references in parentheses in the stories in various Bible Storying resources are for your reference only and should not be given as part of the story. Later if a person asks a question and you need to refer to the passage, you will have record of it. Too, add your own references and any discussion points or questions to ask listeners as you study and prepare the stories as you will tell them.

The first several times you attempt to story through the Bible you will feel a need to have your outline or teaching notes in hand along with your Bible. Soon you will find that you can do the stories mostly from memory and not constantly rely upon your notes. This will free you to gesture and articulate your story to hold the listeners’ attention and for clarity and understanding as they hear the stories from God’s Word.

Go over what you will do with your interpreter so they will be familiar with your plan (and vocabulary) to tell the stories as a story and not a sermon or simple factual account.

Signal that your source is God’s Word. If it doesn’t cause a problem, open the Bible before you or hold it in your hand as you tell the stories. This reminds the listeners that the story comes from God’s Word. When talking about the story and its implications for listeners, you may put down the open Bible.

With some non-literates, holding or reading from an open Bible may separate you from your listeners. If it offends that you are literate and they are not, then put the Bible down and tell the stories from memory. In some cultures, a teaching Bible with writing or marking in it is offensive, so keep a clean copy handy.

Do not get drawn into a debate with listeners. Keep the story session on a “win/win” basis. If necessary, answer listeners’ questions in a hostile environment with more stories or refer to stories told earlier. Or you might answer with a question of your own: “What do you think? Why are you asking that question?”

Utilize a dialog time after telling the stories. During this time you can ask questions about the most basic truths of the story. You can also ask questions about the implications of the story. For example, you can ask, “What does it mean that the father forgave his prodigal son?” Then you can ask questions about the application of this truth to their own lives. It is important that you listen very well to the answers that people give to the questions. This can help you to know if people truly understand the story and if they have thought about its application to their personal lives. It will also help if you allow time for people to ask questions. This will help you to know areas in which greater focus is needed.
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