As a child I often spent my summer vacations sprawled out on my bed with my face buried in my most recent discovery from the local library. My parents would regularly complain that I spent all of my time alone in my room cooped up and hidden away from the outside world. But what they didn’t realize is that far from staying in my room all day I was traveling to distant places! From entirely mythical worlds to societies once real and now nearly forgotten, I spent my days taking in the wonders that each new book had to offer me. My favorite books have always been the ones that don’t just tell you a story but take you along with them on the journey. It’s why so many classics still have such a big audience. Stories like Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice, or The Chronicles of Narnia do more than just tell you a story. They take you on an adventure of personal growth as you watch the words on a page become familiar people and places and the lessons taught become lessons learned deep within your own heart and mind.
Good stories don’t just present us with the facts about what happened. They make us feel with those involved. Lead us to a personal investment in the final outcome. And if it’s really well done, a good story even has the power to bring about personal growth in us as it does the same in our beloved characters. Have you ever read a story that changed you? Has your heart ever been moved as a character in a book or movie finds themselves learning to be something they hadn’t been before?
That my freinds is the power of a story.
Is it any wonder then that God wrote us a story as the primary means for knowing him? We as Christians have at our fingertips the most powerful story of all. And within that great story are many smaller ones; pieces of a whole that together or apart point to the glory of the one true God and his plan for our redemption. Now lest you think it coincidence that God has given us a book, did you know that 75% of the Bible is made up of stories? That’s right! With all the many types of literature included in the Bible, we find that the format God chose to use most was storytelling.
We seem to have some innate understanding of this as witnessed in how we began to teach children about the word of God. While I am sure a great many of you who grew up in church couldn’t recall a single sermon outline or even the title of last week’s sermon, you still remember those stories told to you by a sweet lady in a small classroom every Sunday morning. Maybe you remember the flannelgraph and when the teacher would sometimes let you move the felt pieces. And surely you remember and can tell about Noah’s ark or how Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. While we may not remember every lesson taught we never forget those stories. It comes as no surprise then that Jesus himself often used storytelling as his preferred teaching method. How many times did he respond to his disciples questions with ‘There once was…’ as he began the latest in his series of parables. If stories were good enough for Jesus, then why do we so often lose the art of storying when we get past those childhood years? Surely with a book as big as the Bible there are more stories we could learn! And what about those who didn’t grow up in Sunday school? When asked about what you believe or given the opportunity to share, have you ever considered telling them a Bible story?
Oftentimes believers don’t feel ready to share. Maybe they get nervous and forget step three along the Romans road. Or they try to draw that bridge example but art really isn’t there thing and it doesn’t actually look like a bridge at all. But who can’t tell a story? Someone is worried when they have financial need? Jesus Feeds the 5,000!
Struggling to understand why bad things happen in our world? The creation and the fall.
Worried over circumstances far out of their control? Jesus Calms the Storm.
You might not have thought about it this way, but in the Bible there really is a story for everything. Not only is there a story, there’s also a good chance you know it far better than you know an evangelism technique you were taught once upon a time. And let’s face it: people are more likely to say yes to ‘Can I tell you a story?’ then, ‘Hey can I show you a series of Bible verses?’ Now this isn’t to discredit other techniques. There is a time when these other forms of sharing are appropriate and helpful. Especially considering that they include scripture and we know that the word of God never returns void. But the next time it’s your turn to teach about the Bible or share with someone who really doesn’t know what your favorite book says, might I kindly suggest that you start with a story? And when you do get back to me, I’d love to hear how it goes. 🙂
Happy Story Telling!