Story Telling
  • The Art of Storytelling
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Storytelling Is An Art

Storytelling is an art.  It is an art and a skill and as such can be taught.

This means tell stories well – that is with all our art or with all our skill and understanding.

This word understanding is used in the bible KJV

Psalm 47  New English Bible

God is king of all Clap your hands, all you nations; acclaim our God with shouts of joy. How fearful is the LORD Most High, great sovereign over all the earth! He lays the nations prostrate beneath us, he lays peoples under our feet; he chose our patrimony for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loved. God has gone up with shouts of acclamation, the Lord has gone up with a fanfare of trumpets. Praise God,” praise him with psalms; praise our king, praise him with psalms. God is king of all the earth; sing psalms with all your art. God reigns over the nations, God is seated on his holy throne. The princes of the nations assemble with the families of Abraham’s line; for the mighty ones of earth belong to God, and he is raised above them all.

So We are called to “Praise the Lord with all our ART” or “Praise the Lord with skill and understanding”.

It is essential that stories are “Interesting”

It is not enough that the story is interesting the storyteller himself must be interesting.  (Himself or herself - we are not gender specific here. If a story is not interesting then a story is “boring”. If the story is boring then the storyteller looses the listens. If you loose the listens then crowd control will be virtually impossible & some type of corrective force will be needed to keep order. If you are interesting then you will keep order almost without effort. It always looks “magical” when the same group of kids are very well behaved with one storyteller BUT almost unmanageable with another. The underling fact is that the storyteller who is interesting will have the control. It is as simple as that.

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Interesting starts in the mind

Firstly the mind of the storyteller must be interesting. Yes interesting starts in the mind of the storyteller not the listener. Develop an interesting mind. You know the scripture says:

[KJV]  PRO 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

One of the best ways to have active friends is to be interesting. People crave interesting. Do you know that you can develop an interesting mind. Yes you can. I suppose this is material for an add-on to this document. For the moment one way to be interesting is to know & know about all the bible stories. You cant beat the background reading & devouring the bible stories even if you don’t understanding all the meanings. You see your brain – part of your mind – is a self-organising system. You load it up with info – in this bible stories – it automatically starts hunting for patterns & similarities & contrasts. Yes it will sort it out into a very interesting kaleidoscope of patterns & associations. Add to the mix a fired up spirit full & overflowing with the glory & joy of the Lord God & who knows the wonderful & interesting mix that is floating in there giving inspiration & a constant flow of ideas & thoughts.

Words Allow the Mind to See What Your Eyes Cannot

Intelligence is the ability to make finer distinctions. Words allow your mind to make finer distinctions. You, the storytelling, take the bible stories – this why you should read them again & again in as many translations as possible to enlarge your vocabulary to get word power. You then translate the words into a format that is understood by the listeners & will allow them to see what their eyes cannot. (Imagination – which fires the emotions which produces empathy which produces interest) I will have to deal with another time. I have been sharing this type of stuff with Junior Eagles. If you want friends then be “interesting”.

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Learning Storytelling is an art!

It is like the scripture:

(John 12:49 NIV)  "For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and HOW to say it."

When you ask the Lord for help with story telling He will show you “what” story to tell & “how” to tell the story. Jesus was the best storyteller. The power of storytelling is huge & the Holy Spirit helps us & opens the hearts of the listeners.

Later on I'll try to explain why the Bible is full of storytellers.  Jesus was a storyteller in fact the Bible says that He only spoke to the crowds with stories (or parables which are really stories).  Some of the stories were literally true and some were not. He used stories to illustrate (paint a picture in the listeners mind) and so move the conscience of the listeners.

The story is the greatest medium we can use to teach children.  We need to get our children and tell them stories about the Bible.  We want them to understand the story, believe the story and remember the story.  This will form the foundation of love, hope and faith that comes from having the word of God in our hearts and in our minds.  The main aim of a storyteller is to get the listeners to feel the story that is to become emotionally involved in the story.

One of the problems today is that children, in watching television, suffer from senses overload with the result that they become *watchers* or spectators rather than participants in the story.  This is great for spying but makes for dysfunctional people & us Christians are anything but dysfunctional by-standees of life.

It's as if they take on the perspective of the camera looking at, observing, and not really been a part of the story.  When they do become part of something it is normally through a computer game and once again and not really interacting with real situations but surreal situations.

I always have a look at the new children’s shows – tele-tubies – vegitales or whatever. I notice that a new cartoon uses supersaturated colours that almost hurt the eyes to keep the attention span. Actually black & white used to easy create dark evil moods see Hitchcock – but it is harder in colour – there are a couple of TV shows that have managed this using a “dirty yellow” colour – the red of gore is not menacing in itself to get they use red with shock images. It is very interesting to see the use of colour & sound in invoke “moods”

You will be able to learn to use your voice – tone – volume & pitch & speed to invoke “moods”. More of that later.

It seems to me that they have lost the power of participation because nothing is left to the imagination.  This is a challenge for the modern storyteller.  The modern storyteller must move the listeners right into the story so that they are not just spectators or "watchers" – they are living in the story [imagining themselves as the main character].  They start to live in the story.  I used to tell lots of stories.  In my younger days whenever I went anywhere to minister I would always go along to the Sunday school and to tell the children a story.  And to this day this is one of the reasons that I know so many of the mothers and fathers in our fellowships who now have children of their own.  When I used to tell stories I used to make the main character very similar to one of the children who were listening (if there was a group leader who influenced the rest in a negative way – I picked that one) because I wanted a complete identification with the character in the story.

The story plan is not unlike a preaching plan (that is a style of preaching that I like to promote)

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The Story Plan

You have one main character in your story about one main event.  The best stories present a character that you can identify with who gets into an impossible situation and one way or another the story unfolds & the situation resolved.  Now that sounds like a bit of a mouthful but really stories are about someone you can identify with overcoming problems.

Because stories appeal to the imagination good stories must be felt.  So you have one main person (animal or anything -- I now a great story about trees or rather 3 special trees) and you present difficulties and tension that has to be overcome.

You have to package this

You have to package this & put it together in a way that is interesting.  Telling the story is not the same as writing the story.  “Interesting” starts in your mind. It seems today that we have lost the art of being interesting. Many of us feel we are boring. It is do with the low self-esteem that pervades our modern culture. We are interesting. We are unique. There is none, no not one, like us in the whole world of time & space.

Look at the parable of the Good Samaritan

Look at the parable of the Good Samaritan or I should say the story of a Samaritan traveller who did good and noble things when he stopped to help a Jewish traveller who had been attacked, robbed & left for dead by the side of the road.  Notice that the purpose that Jesus told this story was to explain what a “neighbor was” – the story is about an unknown traveller & what happens to him. Jesus told the story and it is a classic.  It is an actually not about a Samaritan but about a Jewish traveller who gets helped by Samaritan traveller. And so this story demonstrates who a “neighbor” is.

So let's look at how the master storyteller told the story.  You can find this story in Luke chapter 10.

N.B. Simple action words – stories draw pictures in the mind – they are used to illustrate abstracts they should not contain abstract concepts as such. They are about NOUNS & VERBS.

(noun  n.  word used to name a person, place, or thing. [Latin nomen name] Verb n. word used to indicate action, a state, or an occurrence (e.g. hear, be, happen). [Latin verbum word] Adverb n. word indicating manner, degree, circumstance, etc., used to modify an adjective, verb, or other adverb (e.g. gently, quite, then). ￿ Adverbial adj. [Latin: related to *ad-, verbum word, *verb] Adjective  n. word used to describe or modify a noun or pronoun. ￿ adjectival adj. [Latin jaceo lie])

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Look at the structure of the story:

Jesus starts story by:

1.     Setting the scene.

"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead."

Luke, 10.  In 32 words we have been introduced to the main character, we have the specific detail of which road he was on, we have six actions (verbs) of going down a road, falling into the hands, being stripped, being beaten, they went away, they left him. We have one description (adjective) of him being half dead, and we have his problem, that of facing death because he cannot help himself.

1.   Setting up the scene -- in 32 words

We have met the main person of the story

We know what he was doing – which road he was on – where he was going

We have six actions (verbs) of

Going down a road,

Falling into the hands of robbers,

Being stripped,

Being beaten,

The robbers went away,

The robbers left him.

We have one description (adjective) of

Him being half dead,

We have his problem -

“He is facing death because he cannot help himself”.

How is he going to escape from his latest predicament?

Will he die?

Will someone come by & help him?

We are left in suspense! – Anticipation! Tension!

That's not bad for 32 words.  Not a single adverb insight.

How is he going to escape from his latest predicament? Will he die?

We are left in suspense!

2. Now follow two quick scenes

Now follow two quick scenes to reinforce the man's predicament & to involve the hearers emotionally.

Surprise is the element - the events are not what the listeners were conditioned to expect.

Note that the two who passed by were the most likely people in the whole community who should feel constrained to stop and help their fellow man.

* The Priest passes by (23 words)

* The Levite passes by (19 words)

Note that the two who passed by were the most likely people in the whole community who would feel constrained to stop and help their fellow man. The listeners would have already tried to predict the outcome before the story unfolded. They would have already had perceptions about the ones who pass by the injured man.

The tension is increased & the feelings of the hearers are stirred in judgment, criticism & a sort “Yeah that would be right – hypocrites”.

The person least likely to assist turns up, has pity on him and takes ACTION


3. The Climax (88 words)

The person least likely to assist turns up

He has pity on the wounded man



Went to him

Bandaged him

Poured on medicines

Put the man on the donkey

Carried him to an inn

Took care of him

Paid the innkeeper to continue the care

Promised to reimburse the innkeeper any extra expenses

This is a “surprise” ending that shocked the hearers & illustrated the point of “who is a neighbor?”

Jesus used simple plots that were not boring.

ACTION VERBS. Pictures painted. Anticipation surprised. Result confirmed.

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Two thousand years later the story is still interesting.

It is still remembered BUT only if the modern storyteller amplifies the 3 Helpers in the way they tell the story. What would have been expected by the society of those 3 different “helpers”

The judgment & surprise would be lost

The judgment & surprise would be lost if you just used the terms – Samaritan – Levite – priest without involving interesting background about them. By using a simile to explain the cultural perceptions of the day etc.

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Storytellers Use:

* Anecdote (anecdote an˘ik­dot, noun a short narrative of an incident of private life; anecdotes collectively.)

* Parable parable par˘e­bl, (noun a comparison or similitude; a fable or story told to illustrate some doctrine or moral point; any such story told by Jesus Christ; a proverb (archaic); discourse (archaic).)

Do you know that Jesus never used

Do you know that Jesus never used the following words in any his stories, talks, sermons or parables:

Salvation – Grace - Redemption

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Jesus used the "rabbinical or talmudic"

Jesus used the "rabbinical or talmudic" method of telling a parable or a story or an example in order to prove a point. The truth was taught by story telling – painting pictures & illustrations by mouth - even the Hebrew letters of the alphabet (the shape of them) all tell a story.

Matthew 13:3 AMPNT 3 And He told them many things in parables (stories by way of illustration and comparison), saying, A sower went out to sow.

Matthew 21:45 AMPNT 45 And when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables (comparisons, stories used to illustrate and explain), they perceived that He was talking about them.

Matthew 13:3 CEV v3 Then he taught them many things by using stories. He said: A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field.

Matthew 13:10,13 CEV 10 Jesus’ disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you use nothing but stories when you speak to the people?”  13 I use stories when I speak to them because when they look, they cannot see, and when they listen, they cannot hear or understand.

Matthew 13:34 CEV 34 Jesus used stories when he spoke to the people. In fact, he did not tell them anything without using stories.

Matthew 13:35 CEV 35 So God’s promise came true, just as the prophet had said,

“I will use stories to speak my message and to explain things that have been hidden since the creation of the world.”

Matthew 21:45 CEV 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard these stories, they knew that Jesus was talking about them.

Matthew 22:1 CEV Once again Jesus used stories to teach the people:

Mark 2:4 CEV 4 But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof  above him and let the man down in front of everyone.

Mark 4:33-34 CEV 33 Jesus used many other stories when he spoke to the people, and he taught them as much as they could understand. 34 He did not tell them anything without using stories. But when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them.

Matthew 13:34-35 NCV 34 Jesus used stories to tell all these things to the people; he always used stories to teach them. 35 This is as the prophet said: “I will speak using stories; I will tell things that have been secret since the world was made.”  (Psalm 78:2)

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The parabolic method

Believer’s Study Bible

Mat 13:13–15 The parabolic method has numerous advantages: (1) Spiritual truths may be conveyed in everyday terms with which all are familiar. (2) Arresting stories are more easily remembered than abstract spiritual principles enunciated without local colour. (3) Strangely, Jesus also desires to conceal certain truths in parable, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah (Is. 6:9, 10). The idea is that long inattentiveness to previous revelation has brought darkness to the eyes of many listeners. To them, the parables of Jesus create only a greater fog.

Paul used picture-less abstracts

Paul used picture-less abstracts (full of adjectives & adverbs) in his letters. But reading a letter is not the same as preaching a sermon or telling a story.

Parables or pictures carried Jesus’ preaching:

Ten talents - Prodigal son

Jesus told stories that explained the point in everyday terms.

The story is the best way that a teacher can communicate with people.  Jesus used stories all the time.  His stories were about everyday life and the way he told them drew people in so that they could identify with the characters in the story.  Storytelling is still in use everywhere you look.  Not only on TV shows but also on TV commercials.  Good storytellers know that stories always have an effect. 

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The storytellers golden rule

The storytellers golden rule is "give your audience the message you want them to get but package at the way they want" what is the best and most preferred package -- a story format.  People love stories.  People need stories.  You know that our children spend over one-day a week watching stories on TV.  They grow up with stories.  By the time you get to 65 you spent nine years of your life watching stories.  That's why people like gossip.  Not so much because it is critical but because it is a story.  People want to enjoy stories they like stories and if you want to communicate you need to learn how to tell a good story.  The package of story with the message you want to tell but in the way that they want to hear it.

Now this is a fundamentally different way of preaching.  It is definitely the way that Jesus used.  The religious leaders of his time use the far more authority way - they called & challenged people to rise up to the standard they proclaimed [although by tradition they had always used aural stories to establish the word of God - I believe that had to resort to raw authority because they were substituting the doctrine of men for the truth of God] -- Jesus went to people where they were by using a story and then lead them to where he wanted them to be.

One of the main things to do is to realise

They are many wonderful stories that you can tell. One of the main things to do is to realise that if the listeners can feel through their imagination and their emotions the solutions that the main character uses to escape from the trouble that he is in then listeners will remember and adapt this information for their own use later.  This is very exciting. You can help people by telling them stories and they can learn some of the greatest lessons in life.  Jesus was the greatest storyteller who has ever been.

Give the people what you want to give them BUT package it in a way the people want.

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Story telling hints

People want to know how to cope with life’s problems.  When they listen to a story they identify with the main character and if the main character faces difficulties and struggle and overcomes them, then they identify with that character.

Children Need To Experience

This is why children need to experience the moral & hear stories about the “moral” before you can challenge them to correct & live the moral.

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Achieve Three Main Goals

Teachers and storytellers know that they have to achieve three main goals.  They know that they need to get people to understand the idea, to believe the idea and to remember the idea.


When you want to teach something these are the three things that you must get across; the teaching must be understood so that it can be believed and it must be remembered so it can be used, if it is going to bring about change.  The same is true in preaching messages.  The preaching must focus on one theme so that it is understood, believed and remembered.  This is very important.  You want your story or your message to be: 1. Understood  2. Believed  3. Remembered

It is essential to have this as the aim.  The whole purpose and structure is to arrive at these three things.

People will never put your ideas into practice unless

People will never put your ideas into practice unless they understand them, believe them, and remember them.

The same is true of “little” people (children).

Stories help people understand, believe and remember.  But stories also help people participate and join in.  Stories have a  wonderful effect on the listeners.  As the story unfolds it activates the emotions and the imagination of the listeners.

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Emotions & Imagination

These two work together to draw people into the story as active listeners and they help the listeners understand the story [or rather understand the theme or the point of the story] help people the listeners to believe the theme or the point of the story and to make sure that the whole lesson is remembered.

These two work together in the heart to stir the will & do the action.

If They Don't Feel They’ll Be Bored

When you tell a story you do more than just tell a story you tell a story to people who listen.  When they listen they join in.  They join in through their imagination and their emotions.  When the listeners’ imagination and emotions are fired up they feel the story -- they live the story in the mind.  When people feel the story they believe the idea and they remember.  Stories appeal to the emotions.  If you want people to remember and to believe the truth behind your story you must make them feel.  If they don't feel they'll be bored and they'll forget.  Listeners always learn through feelings.  This is true of a congregation or a Sunday School. 

Get Children To Read

This is why there is a push to get children to read rather than watch television. When they read their imagination & emotion is fired up and they enter into the story in a way that they never do by just watching. In fact to hold watching attention the images uses saturated colours these days & constantly changes & sounds come from all around. The speed of the information download is so fast in order to hold attention the there is absolutely no time to actually participate let along understand – remember – believe the story – just keep them glued to the TV until the next add.

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Beginning of the Story

So we use the beginning of the story to create tension, we use the middle of the story to increase the tension, we use the climax of the story to focus the tension and we use the resolution of the story to release the tension.  People love stories about tension about conflict. 

The reasoning is that we face the need to deal with problems and tension everyday and we want to hear and learn from others and the ways that they use or the things not to use.  The Lord Jesus was always telling stories.  He used this as one of the main ways in which he taught and communicated the ideas and the truths that would set us free.

Children Are Used To Stories

Children are used to stories they see them everyday on the television over and over again.  While many don’t like the Tellie Tubbies the way they go about storytelling is very good. The voice off camera (outside of the story) tells what is going to happen then the characters in the story do the actions – say the events. This is the way children are kept in sync & not afraid. The need for stories was there are long before television but the television helps increase the need for stories.

You Will Always Stimulate

You will always stimulate and satisfy your listeners when the feelings (imagination and emotions) are stirred by listening to a good conflict.  A story without a conflict is like any lukewarm situation.  It doesn't really satisfy.  If you understand this basic rule you will always tell great stories.

Your Story Is A Deliberate Plan

Your story is a deliberate plan to produce emotions in the listeners.  What you say and how you say it will depend on the strength of the emotions and imagination that produce the feelings.

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The First Thing

The first thing that you have to do is to decide how do you want the listeners to react. 

Then you plan the story around this so that you get the desired effect.  You stir the feelings of the listeners.  You do it deliberately and you have a plan to achieve this.  There are natural storytellers but I am sure that it is a skill that can be taught and can be learnt.

Don’t tell a story & then labour the moral point at the end

One of the things that many Sunday school workers do is that they tell a story & then labour the moral point at the end.

I think that a story should demonstrate the moral point that a simple question will answer it. In the example of the traveller robbed, beaten & left to die. Jesus tells the story & then asks the simple question “who is the neighbour in this story?” end of story.

So in our setting we would start & say I’m going to tell you all a story. Or “who wants to hear a story?”

What would you like to hear a story about?”

You will get a person or place or time – just bring out the underlying question or moral that the story shows & then tell it & ask the simple question at the end. This will test you as a storyteller.

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Why Tell Stories?

1.  Stories fascinate people

People prefer to learn through stories.  They like to identify with the winner, they like to judge and they want to know how to cope with lives problems.

2.  Stories help people

Stories help people to understand your ideas, believe your ideas and to remember your ideas.


3.  Stories produce audience participation.

 They bring to life each listener’s imagination and emotions.  A story is a plan to produce emotions in the listeners. Emotions drive action & application.

Preparation is the greatest part of telling a story. 

You have to prepare your stories well.  “Preparation, preparation and more preparation”  Then all you have to do is stand up and tell it.  When you know how to prepare the story it becomes easy to tell great stories.

What do children enjoy?

People enjoy seeing a person and trouble and then watching how the person deals with the trouble.  Everybody loves a fighter.  People identify with the hero and they want the hero to win.  Watching someone face trouble fascinate people of all ages.

The story is what happens when a person has a problem and deals with it.  A story must have a person with a problem.  One main character who solves one main problem.  The basic rule is to use only one main character with one main problem.  You have to let the main character solve a problem himself.  You want the main character to solve the problem by himself (i.e. with faith in God).  You don't want the problem to be solved by someone else rushing in the last minute.  Great stories with great tension are built when one character faces one problem and solves the problem.

One of the great Australian storytellers Clifford Warne says (the scripture union often send Clifford around speaking – if you can get to hear him you will be blessed – he teaches great storytelling)

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There are three types of story.

(Thanks to Clifford Warne)

1.  The accomplishment story

the accomplishment story shows the main character struggling to overcome all opposition until he gets what he wants.  See David and the giant.

2.  The decision story

The decision story shows a person the main character struggles with forces for and against which influence his decision.  The case of Pontius Pilot.  When the judge decides guilty or not guilty when the girl has decide between poor young men and a rich old man.  When the hero chooses between liberty and death these are decision stories.  Decision stories show a main character struggling to make up his mind.

3.  The theme story

A person struggles to realise a truth of vital importance to living.  The truth that the main character realises has to be of vital importance to make a theme story live.

Accomplishment Decision Theme

These are the three types of story.  The first practical side of this set of studies is to look at the TV shows that you watch or the stories that you read or hear and decide which of the three types of story they are.  Is the story an accomplishment story?  Is the story a decision story?  Is the story a theme story?

Get practising on the use so that you can tell the difference.  Make a list of the Bible stories that you know and show is the story is an accomplishment story, a decision story or a theme story.

Remember that aren't any new plots for stories just all plots told in new ways.  And you the storyteller can find the best ways to tell the story.

You story will show a main character solving a main problem.  The main character will are achieve an accomplishment, make a decision, will realise a theme and this action will solve a problem.  In doing this the listeners will feel the story through their imagination and their emotions and they will understand the point of the story believe in the solution of the story and remember the solution so that they can use it in their own lives.

So here is the general plot

1.  Make the listeners like the main character

2.  Make the character want or need something

3.  Put difficulties in the characters way

4.  Show how the character overcomes the difficulties

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What are the most important part of the format

put difficulties in the characters way and show how the character overcomes them.  The main character has to fight to get what the main character wants.  Maximum desire set against maximum opposition gives you maximum drama.

Here some types of conflict

1.  Man set against men

2. Man against animal

3. Animal against animal

4. Man against nature   etc

There are many wonderful stories that you can tell. One of the main things to do is to realise that the listeners can feel through their imagination and the emotions the solutions that the main character uses to escape from the trouble that he is in then the listeners will remember and adapt this information for their own use later.  This is very exciting you can help people by telling them stories and they can learn some of the greatest lessons in life.  Jesus was the greatest storyteller who has ever been.

When you read a bible story look inside it for the main character – the problem & the solution. Tell the story.

One of the main themes in bible stories is “A LOVING God drawing people back to himself”

I have always wanted to build a “database” of bible stories using the indexes of

People  Place   Time   Type  (accomplishment – decision – theme)

So far as I’m concerned it is important with children to build the mental database of the actual stories as such before majoring on the morals. Many morals that we try to teach children they have not encountered in their own life so it is hard for them grasp the abstracts of the moral.

If instance they need to know stories about the examples of greed before they learn about greed. What I mean is not ˝ an hour before but days or months before. They need to identify with greed before they come to know how wrong it is & how to avoid it. The stories provide a framework for them to relate to & work with.

The law is the schoolmaster – the experience of wrong comes before the desire to be right – our fore-parents eat of the tree. We like to teach a form of preventative moral medicine but the word brings light.

I must admit that I am seldom understood about this concept but non-the less it is reality. In the same way children today are overloaded so that they are “watchers” not “participants”. Children mostly learn by doing.Story listening, acting out plays playing board games even playing sport.

We can’t live an entirely cerebral life. We have to do to be.

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Jesus' preaching was carried by parables or pictures:

Ten talents  Prodigal son.  Jesus told stories that explained the point in everyday terms.

Aristotle wrote that one of the hardest things for a speaker was to come up with picture words or an analogy.

The first place to look for stories is the treasure chest of your own experience

You have 100's of stories. Write them out and CAPTION them. Give them a title and use them. The same story can be used to illustrate different points.

If you have read my paper on “how to bring your own testimony” you will see the same pattern. You tell the story of your life with Jesus in 3 parts or stages – a 1/3 before your were saved – 1/3 about your life with Jesus – 1/3 about your expectation of the future. This is unfolded as a story. You write this out to focus your thoughts. I have heard many stunning stories when the preparation has been done. We use the format each Sunday in our “Open House Meeting” we have a section “My Life with Jesus” each week. It is very anointed & powerful.

Make yourself a set of ten prepared stories and title them. You can then call on them.


Get stories from these areas of your life.  Become a great storyteller.

P – parents - I – interests  C – chores  T – television  U - university training(Hard Knocks)  R – recreation  E - environment  (work, home, holidays, camps, conventions, trips etc)   S - shopping

Let the Holy Spirit bring things to your remembrance

Take a walk or a drive

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A Good Storyteller Or Leader Is Always Observing

A good storyteller or leader is always observing even when in passive mode.  Often when people tell things of events etc I am scanning the information to see if there is a story there. I remember the day when my brother in law Len, Brother Mal and I were on the Sydney hydrofoil. We had gone to Sydney to meet Brother Mal from overseas. We were waiting for his connecting flight to Coffs. We went across the harbour, Mal and Len were engrossed in talk of fishing and Brother Mal's new boat. It was a shark cat - as they raved on about the twin hulls & fishing - of which I have little or no interest - I got a wonderful illustration of the dual nature of Jesus and how He has safe passage for us in life! How the twin hulls give safe passage.

 Let the spirit let you look at events with the light of using them as illustration.

Go to the zoo - animals.  (Aesop's Fables) Videos and movies - once again you will alienate most of the congregation by the use of crude examples.  What is the type of story - theme - decision -accomplishment.

I sometimes wonder

I sometimes wonder what we would make of Jesus type of examples if we been alive in His day. He touched on cultural taboos. Anyway there is no point of getting the congregation to shut off just to try to prove a point unless the point is that “they shut off”. If you think we have taboos today just try to bring something new to an entrenched congregation or church.

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Think in HEADINGS or 'Head Lines'

Think in HEADINGS or 'Head-Lines' - like the way the OT is written -

Don't get bogged into details, use detail to enhance the picture - it is the picture that is remembered. The picture enhances the point of the message. The Language Of Appearance

It is important to get this idea because it is so different from other public speaking or writing. When you look at the language of appearance that the OT uses [the bible is not written in a technical language – it was told & spoken – it is written in the language of appearance as opposed to a technical format] It is like with your VCR you get a manual written in the language of appearance that shows you how to work it. At the work shop the technician has a manual that is a technical manual – if they sent you this manual you would be scratching your head even more than you do when you try to set the thing up to record a show while you are away. You see it is sort of written in a newspaper style. One of the main differences is, that most speakers start a theme and develop it much like thesis is developed. BUT we do the opposite:


A thesis starts with an Example - (of the problem) Reasons - (for problem) Result - (solving the problem)

A preacher has strong attention when starting with the -


I USE AN EXAMPLE OF A RECENT MESSAGE about the need to stop doing habits that you didn't want to do. Let’s say smoking for simplicity.

Uni students & thesis writers format:

Example - bad habits waste money and give something power over you to hurt your health - Reason - Bad habits weaken you - Result - Get serious and Stop    

This is OK it is predictable and certainly won’t bring anyone off their seats but:

A preachers approach: Result: Get serious about Stopping Bad Habits - Reason: Bad habits weaken you - Example: when you smoke you waste money - You give something power over you. Your body will suffer. Your spiritual life is down. How can I grow when my life is controlled by bad habits? By this time you have emotional involvement in your storytelling. You can appeal to the emotions to spring board the actions needed. You end by appealing to the listeners’ emotions to take action.



Storytelling style: STATE CONCLUSION: STATE REASONS for the conclusionSTATE EXAMPLES of the conclusion  The listeners can then take the examples & make them work for them.

Select the point Explain it with reasons Examples ad colour and emotion.

You Must Supply The RAILS

Keeping the train of thought on track is the hardest - you must supply the RAILS for the story to travel along on in order to get to the destination you want.

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How To Tell A Story That's Not Boring

In "How To Tell A Story That's Not Boring" (I picked this up in my travels)

Gardiner developed nine questions to test every novel or manuscript.  Adapt the questions to apply to the stories we use:

1.     What does the main character want? If the answer is "nothing" or "I don't know" then I have a boring story.

2.     Why can't the main character have what he wants? If the source of the distress (the reason the main character can't have what he wants) does not loom as a formidable challenge to the main character's physical and/or mental abilities, then the reader will become bored because there is no suspense.

3.     What happens if the main character doesn't get what he wants? The reader will become bored because the outcome doesn't really matter.

4.     How does my main character struggle to get what he wants? If he doesn't struggle, there's no doubt (suspense) about the outcome. Even Sherlock Holmes was not too smart too soon.

5.     What additional hardships does your character face? Ever wonder why the detective and his boss never seem to get along? Or why the get-away car always has trouble starting? Additional hardships mean additional suspense.

6.     When does it appear hopeless? The point of maximum suspense is when the reader can't see it is humanly possible for the main character to achieve his goal.

7.     Does the main character get what he wants? Yes or no? The reader wants to know. That's why he's listening the book.

8.     When is the distress alleviated? If by the end of the story the main character still wants what he wanted at the beginning, then the story doesn't have an ending, and a story without an ending is boring.

9.     What is unexpected or surprising about the ending? If the reader is able to guess how the story will end (i.e. exactly how the main character will alleviate the distress), he will be bored.


Practice on the Kids - get to know the bible stories even the one liners!

The one-liners of the bible – what stories they unfold.

The children here put on a play a while ago. But it was a play with a difference – we all trooped up to see this play. We were confronted with a TV screen – what we actually saw was a video made by them. It was about the soldiers of the cross fighting & being founded & falling (all boys) and the angle/nurses mending them (all girls).

Telling Bible Stories – you need to keep the setting

When telling bible stories don’t change the setting of the story - if you want to tell another similitude in another setting or time or culture then do. Don’t change a bible story. You can tell another story to illustrate the point or tell the same story in another setting but don’t change the actual bible story. The stories of the bible are in the bible for a good reason. Retell tell in a different setting and refer them to the bible story but leave the bible story in the bible setting.

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The Art of Storytelling  Continued 1

A Prophet Tells a King a Story

One of the best-known and most unusual unlikely murderers in history the world would have to be King David.  He had the full favor of God and yet he couldn't wait to do is own thing and in the course of this he committed murder.  David murdered one of his own best fighting men, a man called Uriah.  Uriah was a long-time friend who had been with David through thick & thin. He sends him into the frontline of the battle and has him killed. Uriah has no way of escape. Why did David, the writer of palms the lover of God, do this? King David had got the wife of his best friend pregnant and is now in trouble so the organises the wife's husband to be murdered. He can now safely marry her.  The prophet gets the job of making King David face up to his crime and  the murder.  How do you get a famous & powerful King to face up to his crimes?  The prophet Nathan plans a well-known spiritual line of attack.  How does he do this?  He tells the King ( a shepherd king) a sheep story.

He told the writer (the shepherd king) of the most famous sheep story, that is the 23rd psalm, a sheep story -- a story about sheep and the people who look after them. 

He starts his story:

There were once two men.  One was a rich man and one was a very poor man.  The rich man had many herds and flocks he had many sheep.  The poor man had  one little Lamb that he had nursed and turned into a pet.  This pet was loved by the whole family.  The rich man had a visitor and instead of taking one of his own sheep to put on tea, he took the lamb that belonged to the poor man.  He killed the lamb and served it up for tea. 

David heard this story and got very angry.  He shouted out "the man who has done this deserves to die".  Nathan agreed and said "yes he does deserves to die" and then he added "and you are that man" King David was done by the truth and sank back down.  Nathan then told him of God's judgement on him.  This is a story that is behind Psalm 53.  Because David became aware of his crime he could call out to God to have mercy on him love him and forgive him. 

Nathan strikes hard at the king's conscience by using a simple story. 

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Laying Down Delayed Action Depth Charges

Why did he use a story because people automatically go on guard when you start to accuse them or challenge them.  But who lifts up their guard when they start to listen to a story and get drawn into it.  A story with a “hidden” meaning is like having an operation when you are unconscious.  I have always called this " laying down depth charges" -- the damage is being done without the listener being completely aware of it.  The work is done while the patient is unconscious.

People like stories: Because they like to escape Because they like to play God – judge & criticise – we enjoy judging Because they want to know how to cope with life’s problems

I will try to continue this at another time. Till then “Great Storytelling”


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