Bible Storying with its primary emphasis upon learning, telling and teaching the Bible narratives provides a continuous strategy for evangelizing, church planting, discipling and training emerging church leadership. To do this Bible storyers find it helpful to break up these into several sets of stories that are selected for the primary objective of evangelism, church planting, etc., and secondarily to address any significant worldview issues that pose stumbling blocks to understanding the Gospel and responding to it in faith, church or life.
Bible Storying as an Entry Strategy provides a soft, relational approach to gather a hearing and provoke interest in Bible stories that help to fill in gaps in spiritual knowledge while presenting via the stories key biblical truths that a person needs to consider in coming to faith in Christ as Savior. There are at present a growing number of entry options for getting a hearing to tell the stories and building a trust relationship in the growing bond between the listeners and the storyer. Some of these options are cold-start options in that no promotion or prior arrangements are made before beginning with the Bible stories. In a growing area of use using the Bible stories in ministry provides a unique opportunity to connect God’s Word with listeners’ ministry needs and to lift up the name of Jesus through the stories. Foreknowledge of listeners’ common worldview issues is helpful in knowing where or how to begin and what will catch attention and how best to have purposeful dialogue related to each story.
Bible Storying as a Presence Strategy is based on the opportunity to return day after day or week after week to share another story. In actual practice a community relationship begins to grow between the storyer and the listeners. The Bible Storying sessions are organized to encourage frequent participation of the listeners in the pre-story, telling of the story, and post-story time. Generally the pre-story time develops a theme or point of interest through rhetorical questions that help to get the listeners both responding and talking among themselves about the theme or topic. It also serves to introduce the story and provide any needed background for understanding the story or listening task to draw attention to particular truths key to understanding and applying the story. This is a part of the continuing fellowship time as well as a time when listeners keenly anticipate hearing the new story.
Bible Storying as an Exit Strategy continues the post-story dialogue or conversation between the storyer and listeners and provides appropriate learning exercises like repeating the stories, and various ways of helping the listeners to internalize the stories. It is an interactive time that may begin a bit stiffly as listeners do not really know the storyer, but in time can develop into a time greatly enjoyed by the community of listeners.
But the Exit Strategy is more. By teaching the stories to the listeners they are now able to take the stories and repeat them to family, neighbors and others they encounter. In some housechurch strategies the entire congregation is taught the Bible stories and sent out to retell them in their communities. Learning these stories also contributes to discipling as the listeners learn the stories and any associated memory verses. And this is a means of training emerging church leadership and new Bible Storying evangelists. A point comes when the Bible storyer can move on to begin another community of listeners and begin the teaching and training again.
New Bible storyers are encouraged to think in terms of Entry, Presence and Exit strategies. So it is not simply an exercise of “telling Bible stories,” but deliberate strategies that have the objectives of bringing listeners to a point of belief and confession of their faith in Christ and then on to planting a church and training new leaders so they can continue the witness.
There is no fixed or prescribed way to operate these strategies. In working with nonliterate peoples or those preferring oral learning methodology it requires a sensitivity to how oral learners learn and patience to involve them in appropriate activities to see this happen. And it doesn’t really matter whether one calls this Bible Storying, Bible storytelling, or biblical storytelling as long a primary focus is on the Bible stories and not simply exposition from them that is difficult to reproduce without literacy.