Two of our Missional Communities are starting the Story-Formed Way this week. The Story-Formed Way is a 10 week discipleship course consisting of interactive storytelling and dialogue through the major narratives of Scripture from Creation to Restoration. Below are some tips on how to prepare to lead the Story.
At the beginning of the lesson, there are big picture points that focus on the gist of what the lesson is leading towards. That is for your knowledge as the leader. Read through the Story out loud multiple times. Learn it. Ingest it. Meditate on it. Think of the tone in which the characters would be speaking. You want to story tell, not just read a paper to people. However, remember that the Story has been crafted to accurately convey the biblical story. Don’t change the words. If you misspeak, reiterate what you meant by saying what was written.
- To prepare the manuscript I’m telling the story from, I find it helpful to underline and highlight places where I want to emphasize something important that appears in the dialogue.
- Look through the questions at the end and try to answer them yourself. If there are no answers provided for a specific question, make sure you at least think of what that answer could be.
- When it comes to the dialogue, I look over the questions before hand and try to answer them myself. The leaders guide provides answers, but I try to pinpoint the key answers. If I can think of any others, sometimes I write them down as well. If the question is difficult or unclear, sometimes I’ll write down an alternative question just in case people don’t understand the question that was written
Setting the Tone
- The contents of the bible were originally told, retold, and passed down from person to person, from generation to generation, orally. Ancient Jews, as well as the church up until the 16th century, all learned the biblical story communally through story telling. This didn’t just leave them to try to make sense of the bible on their own, but they had a whole community to help interpret the bible and to retain the accuracy of its telling and interpretation. Two-thirds of the Bible is a narrative. One of the benefits of learning the narrative is that it opens the door to understand everything else in scripture.
- I often relate the Story to being a smorgasbord or a potluck. If only one or two people bring a dish, it isn’t much fun. Likewise, every voice is valuable and contributes. Our discussion is a smorgasbord. The more variety of voices and perspective, the greater the feast.
- Ancient Jewish people would say that there are “70 Facets” to the Bible. It was like a giant diamond with so many facets that at every turn you get a slightly different perspective and insight into the diamond. Likewise, One can study the biblical story over a lifetime and still learn new insights. It’s like an onion. You can keep pulling it back and find new layers of meaning. Each person present is like that facet of a diamond that the Holy Spirit uses to teach us of the beauty within God’s Story.
- Relax and have fun. Make sure that the tone matches the other activities done that night so it seems natural. We want sharing God’s word and applying the Gospel to each other’s lives to feel natural so when we gather officially to do that, we want it to seem like a very natural thing as well.
- After the first week, When you start the lesson, you can ask if someone is willing to review the last lesson or the whole story leading up to the current one. This reinforces the themes of the greater Story of God so that they are more easily connected to the story you are covering. Once the full story is remembered, then you go into telling that night’s story.
Telling the Story (This should take 2-5 minutes)
- When telling the story, I find it helpful to have already underlined or highlighted the most important phrases that are brought up in the following dialogue. This helps me know what is most important, and also helps me keep track of my place so I can look at people when I speak. I practice the story 3-5 times. I try to get to the point where I’m not reading the story, but speaking it and using the manuscript to keep me on track. The Key is to Stick to the Story.
- Stick to the Narrative. Don’t interpret on the fly. Don’t add things from future stories.
- This is where the Story begins to come alive and shape your community. The purpose of the dialogue is to help draw out the truths from the Story.
- Remember set up the expectation that all answers given are to come from the night’s narrative or a past narrative in the greater Story. If someone tries to quote Luther, Calvin, Billy Graham, Buddha, or Deepak Chopra, Joyce Meyer, etc, say, “I don’t remember them being in the story” or “where did you hear that in the story.” This is helpful even when someone starts saying, “I don’t think God would do that!” or “I think God is more like this…” We’re here to learn the biblical story and his truth as the story is interpreted through the individuals of the group.
- If you’re leading the dialogue, you’re job is to keep discussion going through asking questions. It is NOT you duty to answer the questions or to preach. The Holy Spirit works through hearing the word of God. The Spirit will work through the people present to lead the group into the truth.
- It is not necessary that you ask all the questions. There’s usually too many questions to focus on. The questions are meant to spur discussion. Remember, this isn’t a Q and A session. The best questions are often, “What did we learn about God in this story?” “What did we learn about human beings?”
- Make sure you spend some time near the end on some life –application questions. If the group hasn’t already naturally gone there with some of the previous questions, ask questions about how the story parallels their lives, informs their lives, is seen in aspects of their life, etc.
- What did you like about the way this story is told?
- What about the Story resonated with your story, heart, and disposition?
- Who could you share this story with?