Bible Storying Series - Teaching The Story Of God ChronologicallyRelated Media
Part 1: Bible Storying
As Jesus gathered His followers on the hill before He ascended into Heaven, He gave specific last instructions. This is what He said:
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19, 20
Bible storying is a way of learning the story of God in a chronological sequence so that the complete story of God is understood from the very youngest child to the adult. CBS4Kids has developed this chronological approach using 60 basic stories of the Bible and story-based lessons to help listeners and learners gain a solid overview of the story of God.
The world is a unique culture. Many people are primarily oral learners since 80% of the world population is are either illiterate or prefer learning by the oral approach. Also, reading skills for most children do not formulate until age six or older. Preschool children, especially, learn the story of God through what they are told and this information is reflected against what they know, or their worldview, up to that point.
As people of all ages learn that story it is important that the story is told in a chronology or sequence so that they can understand the connections from one biblical event to the next. That chronology, or pattern, defines God and the evolvement of man’s relationship to God through the years. To understand how all those events are chronologically connected, enables children as well as adults to better understand the reasons and meaning for the Gospel and understand the importance of knowing and having a personal relationship with God.
Children, who depend on oral learning at younger ages, are not able to process the story of God in the same way as adults. Nevertheless, the chronology of the story is important as even at a child’s level of understanding it enables them to have a beginning base for understanding who God is and how God wants to relate to them as well as providing a base of learning for future processing and reasoning.
Teaching the story of God is a building block process, each story revealing more and more of God, His nature, His love and His invitation for all people, young and old, to know Him and His Son as Savior of the world.
Spiritual Formation of Children - In any society we know that people often have a worldview or world viewpoint that conflicts with a biblical worldview. The “world” (parents, siblings, friends, extended family, parent(s) may advocate or model life values or principles that conflict with biblical teaching. Without knowledge of God’s principles or standards the child may come to the story encounter with worldview concepts that are inaccurate. In order to teach a biblical worldview, we must know the conflicts, misinformation or non-biblical thinking processes, which are teaching obstacles we will face.
It is essential that we ask ourselves these questions in teaching children the story of God:
- What is the background of the group we are teaching? What is their worldview and level of life experiences?
- What is the ability and level of understanding of the learners in our group?
- What is the ability level of the child to process the story information?
- What is the ability and maturity level of the child to apply the life principle of the story?
- What questions can be asked that are appropriate to the listeners level of understanding and life experiences that will enlist thinking and processing commensurate to their abilities to learn?
- What is the church involvement, cultural or family background of the audience and how does that background impact their ability to understand the biblical principles of the story?
Part 2: Getting Started In Bible Storying!
Intentional Bible storytelling: Telling Bible stories should be approached prayerfully, thoughtfully and with intention, seeking God’s lead to select and tell stories that will meet the spiritual, emotional and mental needs of His people. Know your audience. Know their culture, their background, their family, friends, their living conditions, their education, their life experiences, and then select stories to meet them where they are. This was Jesus – meeting people every day where they were, taking them by the hand and heart and walking with them along the road to discover God though stories.
Being intentional about storytelling: If you could only select 5 chronologically selected stories from the Bible to teach unchurched people about God, what 5 stories would you select and why would you select each one? How would the stories you selected link to each other? Take time to write out your thoughts on this.
Knowing And Telling The Story Of God
We drastically underestimate our ability to memorize, especially in an age when so much information is readily available at our fingertips via the internet, personal electronic devices or even our cell phones. It is no longer necessary to remember lists as we can recall just about any information that we would desire and that information can also be recorded with ease.
But God’s Word reminds us of a truth that has stood the test of time for over 3000 years, “In my heart I store up your words that I might not sin against you.” You cannot store up information if you cannot remember it and recall it, plain and simple.
God intended and intends for us to KNOW His Word, the Bible. We become familiar with the Word of God but we can also store up, and “hide in our hearts” the Word of God by memorizing key verses. And that is exactly why God said “Hide my words in your heart…” Why? He answers that again, “so that you will not sin” or fall into disobedience.
If the passage is somewhat long for full memorization, such as Genesis 1-2:1, consider encouraging and challenging children, youth or adults to tag team tell the passage or story. Each person on the team can just take 2-3 verses and commit those to memory and then present the story exactly the same way – tag teaming the presentation. Even this approach gives an added dramatic touch in presenting of the Scripture and enables many to be included in the presenting.
For young children a tag team can tell the passage or story while puppets act out the story in pantomime, or others can act out the story in pantomime as it is told. Another technique is to present the passage with shadow puppetry, easily constructed with white sheeting material, a background floodlight and silhouette figures and props cut from stock card and glued on thin dowel sticks available from the craft section of a craft or home supply stores.
Older elementary age children, teens and adults can interpret the scripture passage or story using music and stick drama. For information on this technique go to www.saltandlightmin.org
There is no end to the value and excitement of presenting the Word of God in vibrant presentation that makes God’s word truly come alive for the listener.
Bible Storytelling: The key to effective teaching with this approach is to empower others to tell the Bible story rather than teaching the Bible story. In each storytelling session the teacher introduces the story with one of the varieties of storytelling approaches that are offered or using direct telling or reading from Scripture or other storytelling method and then guiding children in retelling the same story. Telling methods can include pantomime, puppetry, chants, rap, music-telling, shadow drama and many other techniques.
Part 3: Bible “Storying”
Everyone needs to know The Story: Everyone not only needs to know the stories of the Bible; they need to know the Story of the Bible. While the Bible contains many stories, there is the larger story of God that is told from Genesis to Revelation and continues being told today for children as well as adults to fully understand what the Bible is telling us about God and they need to understand how each story is important in the total story of God. It is important that that learners understand the “big picture” of the Bible, or the overall story of God that begins in Genesis and has continued up through today.
The uniqueness of the chronological storying approach lies in the method of teaching, reviewing and adding core Bible stories so that learner gains a solid knowledge and foundation on which other stories are later added.
The key of retelling stories: It is important to remember that in this system of teaching, stories are not just told once, but are continually retold with opportunities for the learners to retell stories using any one of several varieties of telling methods each time a story is retold. This approach keeps the stories fresh and captivating as they are told. As people of all ages are taught and given opportunity themselves to retell stories, they are gaining the skills to become tellers themselves of God’s story. This approach is doing exactly what Jesus commanded, “Go and make disciples, teaching them…”
Sample Bible Storying Teaching:
Theme: The Story Of God
Daily Bible story-lessons: This Bible storytelling approach is unique. Each session there is a Bible story lesson, each session only 20 minutes. This takes into account attention span of children and is planned intentionally to keep the daily program moving along. During the Bible story lesson, a story is introduced (5 minutes) and then children, in break out groups, take the story and retell it using one of a variety of storytelling techniques. An alternative is to challenge children to tag team memorize the story passage and present the story as a memorized biblical story presentation. This can be accompanied by pantomime, puppet pantomime or shadow puppetry.
The essential direction is to keep the stories in a chronological sequence so children are always gaining a better knowledge of the big picture of the Bible and the ever-unfolding story of God.
The Storyteller: Every person has a unique way of telling stories and no one method of story presentation is necessarily better. Kids can be great storytellers too. Every day kids, teens and adults tell stories. Everyone is a storyteller. We tell stories about what happened to us in school that day, we tell others stories about our friends and about our parents and maybe even how mean our older brother or sister have been to us. See, we all tell stories and sometimes these stories are funny and sometimes serious.
Each person needs to learn how to develop their natural and unique abilities in telling. If you are new to telling stories you need to learn how to tell so that everyone can learn from those stories. This storytelling workshop with tips, ideas and activities can help you quickly learn as you prepare for telling Bible stories.
Activity: Learning how to make faces that help to tell stories – In break out pairs or by yourself in front of a mirror, have fun with this “Mask of Expression” activity. If in pairs partners should face each other. Place both hands over your face and eyes.
In a group exercise have the leader (if by yourself in front of a mirror) state or think of an expression and emotion such as fear, anger, surprise, happiness, etc. Behind your hands make that expression but keep your hands in place. On the leader’s signal or if by yourself, quickly remove your hands and demonstrate that expression / emotion to your partner or yourself Repeat this for several expressions / emotions.
In storytelling we must communicate the emotions and expressions of the characters in the story. This is done by movement, gestures and facial expression. A good teller needs to develop the freedom and use of expression while telling.
Part 4: Bible Storytelling- Telling “The” Story Of God
For effective group learning of Bible stories, when the story is first introduced; the story can be told in at least two different ways with a break-out follow up discussion time after the telling. The following storytelling techniques can be used to make the telling time an exciting and memorable story learning experience.
First telling: The teller just tells the story with expression. Make sure you know the story. Tell the story without notes. Begin with your Bible in your hand, stating the story title and where in the Bible it is found. Lay your Bible aside and tell the story. When you have completed the story, pick up your Bible and say “That is the story of ___________” and close your Bible
Next telling: This is an important step as this begins to release those hearing the story to feel comfortable participating in a telling experience. In the safety of the large group where everyone is talking at once, and where participants in workshops are in pairs, this exercise reduces inhibitions as there is no pressure. The noise of everyone telling at once helps to break many storytelling barriers and fears.
Have all the members of the workshop break into pairs or 3-5 in a small group. Give them 4-5 minutes where the each in the group or pairs tells the story. Say to the group, “Now, I want you to pair with another person right where you are or gather in groups of 4 or 5 and when I say “Go” tell this same story I just told you to each other and try not to miss any of the story details. Take your time and everyone tells the story.”
Final telling: This is where Bible storying is a fun and exciting time. Now is the time to use any of the following telling ideas and put this into action. Use one of the following telling ideas and try to have all members of each group participate in the telling.
The Storyteller: Every person has a unique way of telling stories and no one method of story presentation is necessarily better. Every day child, teens and adults tell stories. Everyone is a storyteller. We tell stories about what happened to us in any given day or from past experiences, we tell others stories about our friends and about our family, from where we work or form places we have been. We all tell stories and sometimes these stories are funny and sometimes serious.
Each person needs to learn how to develop their natural and unique abilities in telling. If you are new to telling stories you need to learn how to tell so that everyone can learn from those stories.
Preparing The Story
When you are preparing a story to tell others your need to plan and prepare a good beginning. This is what we call the “Hook.” This gets others interested in your story and makes them wonder what is coming next.
Here are a few “hook” ideas that you can use when telling a story or giving others a hint about your story. These hooks can also help those who hear your stories remember them long after you have told the story:
*A piece of cloth- Jesus took a small towel and used that when He washed His disciple’s feet. That small towel can be a reminder of how Jesus served others.
*Rain stick – You can purchase rain sticks that are made from hollow cactus plants and dried beans or rice are placed inside and sealed. When you turn them up and down the seeds fall inside the stick and it sounds like rain. How about the story of Noah? How about using this in telling the story of Jesus in the boat with His disciples?
*A cup – At the Last Supper Jesus had a cup that He passed to the disciples. You can use a clay cup like this or a mug when you tell this story.
*Musical instrument – David played a small harp when King Saul was depressed. Many musical instruments can be used in telling a story that will help the story be remembered.
*Seeds - The parable of The Sower and Seed – As you tell the story hand out seeds or beans
*Brief mime skit – You can team tell and your team members act out the story as you tell it.
*A piece of rope- If you hold a piece of rope that relates to a story, it will keep others interested. What stories could you tell using a rope?
*An illusion – there are some illusions that will hook others into your story. What about an illusion where something “disappears”? What story could you tell and use this for a “hook”?
*A song – Many songs describe Bible stories. Teach a song before you tell or after you tell.
*A candle – Jesus taught about lamps under bushels or baskets, about lamps and many other illustrations. Use a candle for a story “hook”.
*A question – When you start a story, think of a question that will get the listener interested in your story. What question could you ask before you tell the story of Noah?
*A hat – sometimes an interesting hat you wear when you tell stories remind those who hear you that a story is coming when you put on your hat.
*Pantomime - it can be a lot of fun to tell your story in sections with a group acting out the story between sections.
*Visuals- There are many items where a visual will relate to a story that you can show or hold in your hand when you tell. What stories can you tell with these visuals? Rock, leaf, stone, knife, a bird in a cage, ribbons in 12 different colors, a small loaf of bread, a rubber fish, a picture of a donkey?
*A chant – in this workshop you will learn some chants that you can have others say while you tell a story.
Part 5: Presenting The Story:
When you are telling do not be afraid to move around. For example, if you are telling the story of the Good Samaritan, it opens by stating, “There was a man traveling from ……” When you tell this part, turn sideways to your audience and take a few steps to demonstrate the man walking.
Make sure you look at your audience when you are telling. Break your audience into three imaginary sections; left, center and right. As you tell, look at all three sections, looking back and forth so that everyone feels you are telling to them.
- Develop the story in several parts where you can have emphasis pauses. Most stories have natural sections or “acts”
- Describe the major sections of the story of Noah
- Describe the major sections of the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man that his friends brought to Jesus who was teaching in a house,
- Make sure you know the story point(s) or purpose(s).
- What does God want us to learn from the story of Moses being found in the river, Joseph being sold to travelers going to Egypt, Jesus in the storm with His disciples?
- Be able to “see” the characters and the setting in your story and help your audience to “see” the characters and setting as well by your actions, gestures and animated descriptions. Close your eyes and describe what a Bible story character that your leader names. What kind of clothes are they wearing, what is their hair like? How old are they?
- Plan your story ending – will you finish your story? If you are just telling the story to a friend do you just say, “That’s the end of the story?” or are there some questions you could ask to see if they discover the main lesson of the story?
Story Ending Ideas – Here are some good tips when telling a story.
- Pick up your Bible and close it as you say “And that is the story of __________”
- At the end of the story, simply say, “And that is the end of the story.”
- When the story has ended, step back, step aside, sit down, stand up, etc. Make a major change in your position while you were telling the story.
Post Story Learning: Before the story session prepare at least 10 solid discussion starters or questions to get discussion going with your group. If you are telling in a large group, if possible, break up your group into smaller units with leaders and have the leaders and kid’s sit down and explore the story.
In developing questions here is a list of the types of questions and discussion starters you can develop and add your own additional questions:
- Who were the characters in the story?
- What do we know about the people groups of the story? The Israelites, the Egyptians, Canaanites, etc
- What does the story tell us about each of these persons?
- Where did this story take place? What do we know about this location?
- What do we know or can we imagine about the story setting?
- What does each character in the story do and why do you think the character acted in that way?
- What choices did each character in the story have?
- What do you think is the history or background of each character in the story?
- What choices did the characters in the story make?
- What happened as a result of the character choice decisions?
- What information does the story tell about each person in the story?
- What do you think happened to the characters after this story account?
- Did anything surprise you about this story?
- What happened before this story took place that might tell us more about the story itself?
- How did the story character handle the problem or situation?
- Do you know anyone who is like any characters in the story?
- Are there any characters in the story that remind you about yourself? Which one and how?
- What is one thing God is trying to teach through this story?
- Did anyone have their life changed in this story? Who and what happened?
- Did God change something He had planned or said He was going to do during this story? If so, what changed?
- Was there a miracle in this story?
- What did God teach you through this story?
In leading a story discussion, if someone draws an erroneous conclusion or makes a story statement error, instead of pointing out their error ask a further question that will reveal the error. For example, if a learner states “When Jesus was in the boat crossing the lake with His disciples, Jesus was talking to Peter when a storm started….” Ask the question “What does the Bible say that Jesus was doing when they were crossing the lake?’ and see if someone else makes the correction. It is important to keep the story facts straight.
Story Reminder: Consider using a multi-sensory approach whenever possible considering presentation ideas that relate to:
Hear – See – Smell – Touch – Movement
Part 6: Techniques For Storytelling
Storytelling Idea 1 – Chants: The Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37
Teller: Tell the story of the Good Samaritan. At each time one of the story characters comes to the traveler on the side of the road; have the audience repeat the chant, each time saying the chant. In the story of the Good Samaritan each time the chant is repeated in a weaker and weaker voice response. Teach your audience the chant and motions before you begin telling.
Examples of Audience Chants
The Good Samaritan
Help me! Help me! Help me please!
I’ve been beaten and robbed by a bunch of thieves
They took my money (pretend to pull at pockets) and they took my clothes, (pretend to tear away shirt from center of chest with hands)
The Sower and The Seeds
Seeds in my pocket, (hands to pockets) seeds in the air (hand scattering seed)
Seeds on the ground (point to ground)
Seeds everywhere. (sweep hand side to side)
Give the seeds some water (pretend to pour water) and give the seeds some sun,(point to sky)
Teller: Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with your entire mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But the expert wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road, (Audience CHANT) but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side.
So too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, (Audience CHANT) He too passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, (Audience CHANT) …. and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them.
Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’
Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So, Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
Storytelling Idea 2 – Character Phrases: Story Example: David And Goliath – I Samuel 17
Divide the audience into three sections. Give the following instructions:
Team 1:When you hear me say “David” Team 1 says” He was young but brave” (and place hand over heart)
Team 2:When you hear me say “Goliath” Team 2 says, “He was a fearless warrior” (and make a fist in the air)
Team 3:When you hear me say “Philistine” Team 3 stand up and shouts, “We fear no one.”
Teller:(Begin telling the story…)
The Philistines drew up their troops for battle. Saul and the Israelites came together on a hill on the other side and prepared their troops ready for battle.
Goliath, a giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open.
Goliath stood there and called out to the Israelite troops, “Pick your best fighter and pit him against me.”
When Saul and his troops heard the Philistine challenge, they were terrified.
David went to the Israelite camp to bring his brothers food. When he arrived and heard the Goliath challenge, he stepped out and asked, “Why are you afraid of this Philistine?”
Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, put them in his bag and with his sling he approached Goliath and the Philistines.
Goliath saw David come down the hill to the battleground and he called out, “Am I a dog that you come after me with a stick?”
“Come on,” called Goliath, “I will deliver you up to the buzzards.”
David answered, “You come after me with a sword, but I come in the name of the living God. The battle belongs to God.
Goliath started coming. The Philistines yelled. David took off for the front lines running toward Goliath. He reached into his shepherd’s bag, took out a stone, put it in his sling, let it go and hit him square in the middle of his forehead and he crashed to the ground, dead.
And that is how David won the battle over the Philistines – with a sling and stone.
Storytelling Idea 3 – “Freeze” Frame: Parable - The Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37
Select players. Develop the story into sections and develop a scene for each section. Pre-train the players of each scene. Have a curtain on a pole that is raised from the floor between each” freeze” scene. An easy freeze frame curtain can be made using ¾” PVC pipe cut in two or three 3’-4’ sections put together (just pressed together so later you can disassemble the pole for transporting) with PVC couplings and using PVC end caps on the pipe at both ends. Assemble the PVC pipe pole then slide the PVC pole through a sheet with the end of the larger sheet hem opened or use a sleeved curtain.
Have two people raise the curtain between scenes as players form each scene. If a curtain is not possible, have the audience close their eyes between scenes as players reset themselves.
The teller tells the story in sections. After each section the curtain is lowered to reveal the scene for only 5 seconds and the players are FROZEN in place - they do not move during the scene.
The curtain is raised and the players get ready for the next scene after the segment is told.
Parable of The Good Samaritan:
The scripture passage section one is read:
Scene 1: 3-4 Players. (The curtain is lowered) Traveler is lying on the floor in “freeze frame” holding his hands up to protect him from the attack and blows of the thieves. The traveler’s expression (slightly turned to the audience) is of great fear and distress. Thieves might have fists raised or a foot in kicking position, etc., with expression of rage and anger. The “thieves” players are in “freeze fame” in the mode of attack on the traveler. (The curtain is raised)
The scripture passage section two is read:
Scene 2: A priest and the traveler player are needed. (The curtain is lowered) Traveler is now lying on the platform with one arm raised in request for help. Priest in “frozen” walking action has passed by the traveler lying on the road. The priest might have scripture rolls in one arm, looking away from the traveler in disgust and the other hand dismissing the injured traveler in a “go away” type of gesture. (The curtain is raised)
The scripture passage section three is read:
Scene 3: Traveler and Levite. (The curtain is lowered) The traveler is in the same position. This time the Levite has walked by with book in hand, also looking away with hand dismissing the traveler’s request for help. (The curtain is raised)
The scripture passage section four is read:
Scene 4: Traveler and Samaritan (Samaritan in tattered clothing) (The curtain is lowered) The Samaritan is kneeling down and attempting to assist the injured traveler to his feet. (The curtain is raised)
The scripture passage section five is read:
Scene 5: Traveler, Samaritan and Innkeeper:(The curtain is lowered) The Samaritan is handing the injured traveler to the care of the innkeeper. (The curtain is raised)
Storytelling Idea 4 – Pantomime: Luke 8:4-15 - The Sower And The Seed
Characters needed (9): Sower, path seed, 2 birds, rock seed, thorn seed, 2 chokers, good soil seed (plus all other players who become the hundredfold grains)
- Scene 1:Freeze frame – One player
- Sower sowing seed
- Scene 2:Freeze frame – Three players
- Path seed and birds devouring
- Scene 3:Freeze frame – One player
- Rock seed that grows some then withers
- Scene 4:Freeze frame – Three players
- Thorn seed that grows then gets choked by weeds
- Scene 5:Freeze frame – One plus all other players
- Good seed and hundredfold production (all players have hands raised)
While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from one town after another, He spoke to them in a parable:
Scene 1: A sower went out to sow his seed.
Scene 2: And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled on, and the wild birds devoured it.
Scene 3: Other seed fell on rock, and when it came up, it withered because it had no moisture.
Scene 4: Other seed fell among the thorns, and they grew up with it and choked it.
Scene 5: But other seed fell on good soil and grew, and it produced a hundred times as much grain. (End of freeze frame presentation – curtain held up in place during final story telling)
Teller: As He said this, He called out, “The one who has ears to hear had better listen!”
Then his disciples asked Him what this parable meant.
He said, “You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that although they see they may not see, and although they hear they may not understand.
“Now the parable means this:
The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in a time of testing fall away.
As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
But as for the seed that landed on good soil, these are the ones who, after hearing the word, cling to it with an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with steadfast endurance.
Note: The Good Samaritan parable can be told as a modern-day story using the role of a pastor, elder, or Sunday school teacher, homeless person, etc.
Storytelling Idea 5 – Exaggerated Story Motion And Expression: Mark 4:35-41 – Jesus And His Disciples In A Storm
Select 6 people from the workshop or 6 children from the group and assign them these characters; Jesus, 6 disciples – Arrange 6 chairs in a boat seat configuration in the center or front of the room. One chair, two behind, two behind, one chair. Now, tell the story in sections and instruct the players to pantomime the story as you tell it and use EXAGGERATED EXPRESSIONS AND MOVEMENT IN SLOWER OR FASTER MOTION AS THEY ACT OUT THE SCENES.
Teller: On that day, when evening came, Jesus said to His disciples, “Let’s go across to the other side of the lake. (Pause)
So, after leaving the crowd, they took him along, just as He was, in the boat, and other boats were with Him. (Pause)
Now a great windstorm developed and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was nearly swamped. (Pause)
But He was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. (Pause)
They woke him up and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die?” (Pause)
So, He got up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Be quiet! Calm down!” (Pause)
Then the wind stopped, and it was dead calm. (Pause)
And He said to them, “Why are you cowardly? Do you still not have faith?” (Pause)
They were overwhelmed by fear and said to one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and sea obey Him!”
Teller: And that is the end of the story of Jesus and His disciples crossing the lake in a storm.
Storytelling Idea 6 – Story Surround: Creation – Genesis 1
This presentation works best in settings of 100 people or less if microphones are not available for all participants or, in larger settings hand-held microphones are required.
Select a story or parable with character speaking or conversation parts or where conversations can be developed. See the Prodigal Son script on the following pages as an example.
Place the characters in the audience in various locations and provide each with script cards to follow.
As the story is presented the narrator can be on the platform and begins the story. When the individual character lines are spoken, the characters in the audience just stand and present that segment of the script from their audience location. Characters do not need to memorize their scripts word for word, they can be familiar with their script section and tell their part and just “act it out”.
Storytelling Idea 7 – Clothes On A Pole: The Prodigal Son – Luke 15: 11-32
In this presentation a clothing item (Inexpensive T Shirts in different colors work well) to represent each story character is put on a pole or rope. The players stand behind their clothing item and read or tell their story part.
Clothesline or pole: 4 shirts, one with smudges and dirt
Props: section of newspaper
There was a man who had two sons. One day the younger son came to his father ….
Son 1: Hey dad, I’ve been thinking. I don’t want to wait until you die to get my inheritance.
Father: Hmmmmm…. I am not so sure that is a good idea.
Son 1: How about if you give me my part now. I’d like to make my own way in life
Father: I think it would be better if you would wait until you are older
Son 1: Oh, come on, why should I wait when I could use the money now.
Narrator: Well, the father loved his son so much it just clouded his good sense so he wrote out a check for half of all that he had saved for his two sons and gave his younger son his share. The younger son thanked his father
(father hands son check or money)
Son 1: Wow! Thanks dad…see ya’
Narrator: The son packed his backpack and took off. He arrived in a far away location and instead of building a life for himself and investing his inheritance he began to spend everything he had on wild living. He went to Casinos and spent money; he went to bars and attended wild parties.
Soon all his money was gone. He needed work and was hungry. A farmer gave him a job feeding pigs. The food he gave the pigs even began to look good to him.
Finally, he said to himself
Son 1: What have I done? I have spent all my money and am here living in a barn and feeding slop to pigs. My father’s hired help live better than I do.
I am going back to my father and ask him to forgive me. Maybe he will give me a job with his farm workers and at least I can have a warm place to sleep and food.
Narrator: So, the son went back to his home. While he was coming to his father’s farm one of the farm workers saw him coming and went and told his farther his son was coming down the road.
Father: Quick. get some clean clothes and get my special ring. Get some food out of the freezer and start the oven. My son who was dead is alive again. Let’s have a party
Narrator: When the older brother hears the noise from the party he came into the home and everyone having a great celebration. One of the farm workers told him about his brother coming home and his father having a big party for him. The older son was so mad he would not even attend the party.
His father found out his older son was outside and went out and said to him
Father: Come on in, your brother has come home and we are celebrating.
Son 2: I have been faithful to you all these years, working for you every day. You never had a party for me. But after my brother squandered all you gave him you throw this big party.
Father: Son, everything I have will one day be yours. But we had to celebrate because I thought your brother was gone forever, but he is alive. He was lost and now he is found.
Storytelling Idea 8 – Carpenter’s Ruler: The Wise And Foolish Men – Matthew 7:24
A carpenter’s wood folding ruler can be an exciting and fun way to illustrate a Bible story such as the parable of the house built on a rock
Using a carpenter’s folding wood ruler, there is a center of the ruler where the point of the fold is up. Separate the ruler in half at the bottom center and you will have the roof design which is an inverted “V.”
Then fold down all remaining sections together on each side to form the sides of the house with the roof on top. Tell the story of the house built on the rock. Keep the house design in tact as you fish that section of the house weather the storm
Next take the two outer single sections of the ruler and fold each down as you tell about the foolish man who built his house on the sand. This becomes a two-story house.
As you fish that section of the parable how the house fell down when the storms came, just pull the sections in your hand out straight to form a horizontal line to show the house had fallen.
Next tell the interpretation of the parable as you fold up the ruler.
Many designs can be made with a carpenter’s rule for telling stories. You can make a design of a donkey or other animals, the door frame and window frame of a home for the paralyzed man as well as the mat the friends careered him on (rectangle), the steps going up to the roof, etc.
You can make a tree shape with a folding ruler, a cross, and a box shape for the Ark of the Covenant, a Noah’s ark shape, a gate, etc. Play with the ruler and be creative.
Storytelling Idea 9 – Play Parachute: Disciples In The Storm – Mark 4:35-41
A colorful play parachute can be purchase don line or in children’s toy stores. This can effectively be sued for telling stories.
For this story also have 5-6 or a few more tennis balls. Have the children hold the parachute in a circle and after you being the story you will place the tennis balls in the center. As you tell the story use the following actions reminding the players that you cannot let the tennis balls fall out or fly out of the parachute. An option is to have the participants walk in a circle slowly as you tell.
Story section 1: One day Jesus tells His disciples to get into the boat to cross to the other side of the lake. (Pout the tennis balls in the center)
Story section 2:As they were rowing across the seas were calm and it was a beautiful day. Jesus went to sleep in a pillow (Gently let the parachute go up and down only a few inches)
Story section 3:Soon the winds began to blow and the weaves began to get rough (Now move the parachute up and down more strongly being careful not to let the tennis balls pop out)
Story section 4:The storm got even worse and the waves crashed over the boat and the winds blew stronger and the boat began to break apart. Jesus slept right on through the storm. (Now have the parachute go up and down even more again being careful the tennis balls do not pop out)
Story section 5:The disciples thought they were all going to drown and they all cried out to Jesus, “Jesus, wake up and save us, we are all going to die.” (Keep the parachute going up and down)
Story section 6:Jesus woke up, stood up ands said to the storm, “Peace” and immediately the storm stopped. (Hold the parachute tight so that all movement stops)
Jesus said to the disciples, “Why do you have such little faith?”
The disciples said to one another, ‘He really is the Son of God. Even the winds and waves obey Him.”
Storytelling Idea 10 – Cloth Or Plastic Table Covering Sections: The Israelites Cross The Red Sea- Exodus 14:15-31
For this telling method you will need two sections of either cloth or a plastic table covering, about 9’ long and at least 3’ wide. Use light weight blue cloth or you can cut a blue plastic table covering in half lengthwise.
Use four people as the cloth holders, one at each end of the two sections as the story is told. Select one audience member to be Pharaoh and one to be Moses.
Begin telling the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt. You can add as much background as you want.
If you have a reasonable size group in your audience rot work with (50 or less) divined the remaining audience members into two groups; the Israelites and the Egyptians with Pharaoh leading the one and Moses leading the other.
As you tell the storey have the cloth holders hold the split section side by side at waist height. You new have a 6’ wide by 9’ long cloth or plastic covering frame.
Tell the story and as you tell have the Israelite group move around the room and come to the “Sea” which is at one end of the cloth. When it comes time for them to cross, have the holders step aside so the group can pass through.
Keep telling and have Pharaoh and his army follow and have them enter but not exit the cloth sections. Then finish the story where the sea closes up on Pharaoh and his army and that group can all fall to the floor as if destroyed.
Storytelling Idea 11 – Audience Response: Creation – Genesis 1
Divide the audience into sections. For this example, two sections are used. As you tell the story, when you tell or read “God said,” pause and have one half assigned to say “Listen up!”
When you finish each day with “The …. was the (first) (second) day, etc., and “God said” Have the other half say “It was good!”
Storytelling Idea 12 - Shadow Story Telling: The Nativity – Luke 2: 1-20
This is an easy technique and gives great visual presentation of any Bible story with little preparation and few props. Make a “freeze” frame curtain as described in the previous story example. For this curtain it is not gathered but needs to be stretched across the poll fully extended. You will need two sections of cloth. A 2’ length by about 9’ wide white sheeting section for the top and a 5’ wide by 9’ dark or opaque section for the lower half. The white sheeting on top becomes the “screen” for the shadow storytelling.
At chest height behind the fabric curtain you can use a low-cost clip-on light with a 60-watt bulb other type of flood light. This is fixed in back behind the “puppeteers” so the light shines on the cloth.
For any Bible story go on line and search for silhouette figures or draw and cut out outlines on stock card of the story figures needed, i.e., Jesus, man, woman, tree, boat, animals, etc. Makes sure you use drawings that give a good outline view of the figure as only the silhouette will be seen for the telling.
Attached these silhouette outlines to thin craft dowel sticks available in the craft section at Wal-Mart or other craft stores. These sticks are thin and about 12- 18” long. You can also use wooden kitchen skewers. Use tape to attach them to the sticks.
Select volunteers to be the story puppeteers. As the story is told the appropriate silhouette figures come up from the back or move in from the sides of the curtain in the white section, to the center and “act out” the story as it is told. The silhouette figures must be held close to the white sheeting. The Light in the back will show a dark shadow on the creating for the audience.
Storytelling Idea 13 – Low-Cost Puppets
For any Bible story puppets can be easily be made and at a low cost by using materials from a dollar store. Locate and purchase any kind of utensil that has a longer handle; spatula, large spoon, ladle, dusting brush, toilet brush, backscratcher, plastic flute, etc. Look with Bible storytelling eyes and be creative. These stores usually have a craft section where you can get plastic eyes that can be glued or taped onto items. Also obtain yarn or chenille craft wires that come in a variety of colors.
Take the plastic eyes and look at they item to mentally see where the face is located. Glue on the eyes. You can add a button nose, and then use the chenille wires in groups of 6-10, twist them together tightly in the center, then spread out the wires or twist and curve them to make crazy hair. Attach a section to the top of the items. Yarn can be used into the same way to make hair, a mustache, or beard.
You can make a family of puppets or a variety of characters. Using the freeze frame curtain the puppets can be used to tell or act out any Bible story.
Storytelling Idea 14 - Storytelling In Living Scripture And Worship Song
There is a never-ending need for children and youth to be included in the corporate worship experience. The challenge is often” how” children and youth can be involved in a meaningful way. Here is an idea where they can be more than observers by having an active and meaningful part of worship.
In most worship services there is a time of Scripture reading or a Scripture passage that is read as part of the message. This idea can help bring Scripture to life and include older elementary age children, youth, adults, or a combination of all ages in an active part of worship presentation. This concept can also be used to illustrate a worship song in “living picture” form. If not in conjunction with the Scripture passage or worship music for a specific worship service, this idea can be incorporated into worship as a related segment of the worship experience.
Jesus used the immediate world around him to illustrate scriptural principles of living. The parables are an excellent example of Jesus using a story to emphasize the scriptural lesson. In addition, Jesus included every day items to illustrate Bible truth. Birds of the air, seeds, trees, wind and water, clouds and flowers, foxes and sheep were all used to visually teach spiritual truth.
With this visual worship idea participants are given the opportunity to both experience worship and be an active part of the worship experience. In addition, this worship form can expand opportunities for children and youth as well as adults to minister to the congregation.
Many scripture passages describe a story segment. The parables are the best known, but there are many accounts in the Bible that bring to mind visual images and lend themselves to this easy drama form. Those images of Bible accounts can be presented to the congregation through what some call “living pictures” and others call “freeze frames.” There are other names of these vignettes or drama scenes.
Many worship songs have words that describe scenes and other visual imagery that can also be incorporated in this worship concept. Older elementary children, teens, adults or a combination of all ages can be used as players in developing this drama presentation as part of scripture presentations and the total worship experience.
First, take the parable, scripture passage or worship song to be used in the planned worship program. Determine if the worship segment lends itself to visual scenes or images that can be portrayed or acted out. Next, determine how many players will be needed to present that passage, parable, or song in multiple scenes. Not every section of the selected passage or song needs to be presented. Usually, 5-8 scenes will suffice. This technique can also be used in seasonal drama presentations or cantatas and eliminate the need for long memorization of scripts or the development of elaborate platform scenes or stage acting skills. If desired, different players can be used for each scene to increase the opportunity for people to be involved.
Once the scenes are determined and the number of players needed and recruited, those involved in the presentation are assigned the parts for each scene planned by the person directing the drama, i.e., worship leader, pastor, etc.
The drama presentation can be made from the platform or from a stage off to the side of the sanctuary in a well-lighted area or spotlighted area.
Players can be dressed in regular clothing, all in black, in costume or in an item of costume such as a hat, cane, crown, shawl, etc.
E-Z Stage Curtain: From you local Home Depot or similar building supply store, obtain an 8’ – 10’ length of 3/4” PVC pipe along with about 6 collar connectors (if you need to have a portable stage curtain) and two end cap pieces. If you need to present your drama in an area where materials need to be transported, and if required, take the pipe and cut it into sections. Even if you are traveling by plane to a location this stage can be made to fit into whatever case you are traveling with. I have used one small wheeled carry-on suitcase (for the airline) for training seminars where this drama technique was demonstrated and where I made my curtain bar out of 4 pieces, each only about 20” long to fit into my resource’s suitcase.
Curtain material. Wal-Mart (is there any other place for cheap cloth off their $1.00 a yard rack?) I found some great curtain material and just made up a plain dark color curtain with a 4” sewn sleeve across the top. First hem the curtain on all sides then fold over one end to make the 4” sleeve and sew. Use the material lengthwise and you can make the curtain 6’ in vertical height which is perfect for most presentations (You need a little more than 6’ panel lengths to have sufficient for the hem.)
The final curtain can be 8’ wide when gathered by making several panels. Most material is 60” wide, so you may need three panels. You will need the bar to be at least 8’ - 8’.6” long when it is assembled. If longer than 7’-8’, the ¾” PVC tends to bend. If you want, add a corresponding color fringe to the curtain or other decoration.
If in your home church, you may not need to cut the bar in lengths. If traveling, once you are on site, assemble the bar with the couplings (do not glue them- you can actually wrap the fittings with one strip of masking tape if you fear they will come apart) put the end cap on both end pieces and slip the bar through the curtain panel sleeves.
Using the Curtain: The curtain is just raised from and lowered to the floor between scenes. To begin, lower the curtain down to the platform or stage floor in font of the area where the players will present the “freeze frame” scenes.
As the story or parable is told, the players (in regular clothing, dressed in black or in costume or costume items) are behind the lowered or raised curtain (the presentation can begin either way). Two “extra” drama assistants are needed on either side to raise and lower the curtain during the presentation. The players get set in place for each scene. Where that scene occurs in the story the side assistants lower the curtain revealing the scene. The “living picture” or “freeze frame” scene is portrayed, the curtain is raised, players change positions to the next scene, the curtain is lowered, scene is revealed, the curtain is raised, etc, and etc.
One Time Rehearsal: The total scripture drama is read or the worship song is played for the players and the determined number of scenes is reviewed. Assigned players are set in place on the platform to act out each designated scene in “frozen” position. For the Good Samaritan parable, scene one might include one player as the traveler, and 2-3 “thieves” players. As each scene is set, the drama director encourages each player to present their part in well-defined or exaggerated “frozen” gestures and facial expressions for the part they are playing in that scene.
Part 7: Storytelling For Missions
As with all mission’s projects, there is the opportunity to raise funds. Below is a fun project which will not only bring about successful fund raising but also will give the children the opportunity to see how God uses their talents to bring this to a successful conclusion.
- Announce in advance that before and after church, there will be a Storytelling for Missions in the church lobby, narthex or vestibule on a designated date.
- Make up a display for the mission’s project with handout information.
- Prepare elevated decorated boxes or small platforms for the storytellers
- Select several capable children to be tellers. Assign different stories from the CBS4kids stories to learn for telling. (www.cbs4kids.org) Have children work with parents or a responsible adult to memorize and dramatize each story.
- Prior to the Storytelling Day have each practice telling the story to the Children’s Pastor or leader.
- Find a willing person to prepare a flier explaining: mission plan, purpose, date, needs
- Plan with pastor(s) date, time and ask for their promotion of event on church website, newsletter, SS classes and from pulpit or platform.
- Seek parental volunteers to assist in collecting of donations, handing out fliers, helping actors
Day Of Event
- On the day of the event performers may choose to come appropriately costumed
- Set up platform for performers
- Set up table(s) decorated with a donation basket or decorated box clearly marked “Storytelling for Missions”.
- Have fliers available for congregants to pick up
- Set a time for performances
- Involve the congregation by:
- Having a congregant select a card which names a person or event in biblical history
- Have a storyteller or tellers tell that Bible story
- You can have the child tell the story first person in costume as if they were the person (Example: Noah tells his story)
- Extension idea: Ask the pastor for permission to include one of the children as a “worship presenter” on the day as part of the worship service when the mission’s project is highlighted
Including the children is important because:
- Offers children a way to demonstrate story skills
- Teaches spiritual truths through drama
- Reinforces principle that we must provide for the work of the ministry
- Inclusion of children reinforces the truth of 2 Tim 2:2 “And entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well.”
- Elevates the value of children in telling The Story of God as commanded by Moses
- Deut 6:7-9 “and you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up. You should tie them as a reminder on your forearm and fasten them as symbols on your forehead. Inscribe them on the doorframes of your houses and gates.”
- So that this promise comes true: Ps 78:4 “We will tell the next generation about the Lord’s praiseworthy acts, about his strength and the amazing things he has done.”
- A side benefit is that it is a fun way to raise funds for a missionary or mission’s project.