Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Biblical storytelling

I love stories. There is something about a story well told that can touch one to the very core. I especially love hearing a story being told. I am convinced that stories are powerful and have a unique ability to touch, engage and even change people. For that reason I've been trying to gain a repertoire of good stories, particularly those with a moral that can be gained from it.

I'm currently reading "Oscar Wilde's Stories for All Ages". Each is introduced by Stephen Fry and are wonderful stories. I can recommend it highly, although each of the stories ends a little depressingly. I especially love 'The Happy Prince', 'The selfish Mermaid' and 'The Fisherman and the Mermaid'.

I'm also, as are most people, a fan of Aesop's fables. Another great source of stories is Youtube. There are modern stories as well as classic stories from all over the world, my favourite at the moment are Japanese and Native American stories. Here are two great stories:

The Wide Mouthed Frog

Why the Rabbit has a short tail

With that said there are a load of stories that are often passed over. Stories that have lasted millennia almost unchanged, that have survived occupation, genocide and spread across the world. I speak of course of Bible stories. The OT in particular is flush with stories as they survived as an oral tradition long before they were written down, although the NT has it's fair share.

Every week I go into the local school to do an assembly. This term their theme is 'Going for Goals' so we are looking at people God gave goals to. I've decided to join this with my love of stories and try to develop my story telling ability. So this morning I told the story of Moses. The funny thing is that when you tell someone that you are going to read a passage from the Bible their eyes glaze over and they switch off but when you tell the story of the prince who ran away from home after murdering a man, who came across a fiery bush that didn't burn and had a staff the turned into a snake, and who stood up to a wicked Pharaoh, then people love it. The kids this morning were gasping with shock, laughing with joy and saddened when the story finished. All that and they learnt something about God in the process.

Mark Griffiths, head of New Wine Kid's ministry, gave a lecture at New Wine 2010 (the only good part :S) and mentioned that in the past we struggled to find ways to make Bible stories interesting. Most people had heard them so many times that they seemed like old-hat. However, now most people in the UK are 3 generations removed from the church. This means that most kids don't go to church, nor did their parents and neither did their grandparents. This gives us an amazing opportunity to tell them these stories afresh. No longer is it the old, boring David and Goliath story but is now the amazing story of the boy who killed a giant with just a sling-shot. You can download a version of his evocatively titled talk, as well as a few other talks, here: One Generation from Extinction.

I look forward to furthering my skills in story telling. With that in mind, I look forward to the publication of "Teaching Through the Art of Storytelling: Creating Fictional Stories that Illuminate the Message of Jesus" in a proper medium. I.e. printed on paper like a book should be!

Till Next Time!