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.
Holy Week, especially Good Friday and Easter, is probably one of the best times to invite someone to a gospel presentation of some sort or to attend church with you.
In our Mother Church, we handed out bible tracts to all of our members. Each tracts simply told the story of Easter and why it is important. In each of those tracts was an invitation to one of our Good Friday or Easter Sunday services. We could have advertised over the radio, in the newspaper, or in mass mailings, but most people give a church a try because someone personally invited them. We encouraged each member of our church to hand that tract and invite to someone they know who was dechurched or unchurched and invite them to come to church with them.
Since we are in the process of starting a church and haven’t started formal services, I encourage you to invite some people to attend church with you at St. Paul. You could use the bible tracts if you’d like, but all of you know the Story and have been trained in telling it. You could share the tract or simply invite them to church. At Some point, be ready to tell the Story. Remember what can happen if you’re not prepared to tell the whole story. Telling them “Christ is risen” is indeed the central message of Christianity and Easter, but if you don’t expand on who he is, why he had to die, and what his resurrection will bring, the Easter Story won’t make much sense.
Again, Follow a Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration pattern
Explain the God Created everything Good. The world was as it should be. Everything was perfect. We lived with God, others, ourselves, and creation in perfect relationships.
In the Fall, humanity joined in the rebellion of God’s enemy. They rejected God’s love and protection and sought life elsewhere. Their rebellion, called sin, broke all the perfect relationships we had at Creation. All creation began breaking down. Pain, suffering, natural disasters, war, violence, sickness, and death were all a result of our rebellion.
Yet God sent His Son into the World to Redeem all of Creation. He loved us so much that he was willing to carry all the burdens of our rebellion and to experience the worst of it as he died an excruciating death on the cross. He died the death we deserved and we receive an exchange. He took on our guilt on the cross so that we could take on his right standing with God. We are considered innocent because Jesus stood in our place and took our punishment as the guilty party. Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning and proved he had defeated death. Now we have the assurance that because He lives, we’ll live also.
Jesus ascended back to His Father in Heaven, but before He left he gave us His Spirit. Through His Holy Spirit, Jesus now dwells in us. He has begun to restore us to the people we were meant to be as we have a new relationship with God and he has chosen to use us to start restoring in part the world around us as we display God’s goodness in our actions and share the good news of what He’s done with others. One day, God will bring all things to a full restoration. All the bad things of this world will no longer be remembered. God will restore all things as they were meant to be. The world will be perfect again. We’ll live in pleasure forever in the presence of God.
We all have this great hope. Make sure you share it with someone this Easter.
We all have family or friends that we feel like we can’t talk to about Jesus. Even sitting around a Christmas tree, right next to a Nativity Scene, we have a hard time finding the words to talk about the gift we have in Christ. Yet at the same time, we might send numerous emails or text throughout the week to these same individuals. Maybe you could reach them in the same way you are already communicating with them.
Note: I’m not telling you to bombard them with cheesy, precious moments, glittery image, Christian quote or story with a curse added to the end if they don’t love Jesus enough to forward it on to ten other people.
Anyway, try sharing showing this awesome video. In my family, when one person plays a cute video, there’s usually 3-5 more before we get off youtube. Throw it in the mix. Reinforce the story. Share it on Facebook or Twitter.
Whether you use the video or not, find a way to point people towards Jesus, and the real meaning of Christmas, this week.