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The Basics of Chronological Bible Storying

Part Four - Telling the Story by Jim Slack


A major part of the storying session is telling the story. It should be continually in our mind that it is a told story. Literate people have a habit, when storying with primarily oral communicators, of ending up with a written story that they tell. So if we remember what we learned from Crafting the Story (part 2), we should be sure weve crafted a told story, and not a written story - and there is a dierence. Told stories can be remembered by primarily oral communicators far better than a read story. Even we would nd it dicult to be interested in and to remember a preachers sermon if he stood in the pulpit and read it to us. Lets tell a told story. We do have some options, though; how will we use the Bible? As some tell their story, they read a key verse from the Bible related to their story, while others do not. Some choose instead to have a memory verse that is given after the story (this will be discussed further in part 5 the Role of Dialogue). Also, will they ever see our Bible? What place will the Bible have when youre telling the story? The common practice is to take the Bible and open to the passage you will tell. Week by week, day by day or hour by hour as we move through the Bible, the people see that the place we have open in our Bible is further than before, and they understand that the story is moving along. However, some people do not hold a Bible or even have one present. This is a choice the storier has to make. Those that do hold the Bible and have it open, when they nish the story, close the Bible to signify the end. They put it down on a table and walk away from it, telling the people that the story, as it appears in Gods Word, is now completed. So in telling the story, we should nd ways in a given culture to indicate this is a story from Gods Holy Word, which has a written form to it; and, it is good to nd a way to mark that weve nished the story. Those who do not use a Bible are usually in an Islamic context. They avoid bringing a Bible into the room to avoid Quaranic issues and the distracting discussions that result. But the storier needs to decide for them self how they will handle and use the Bible.

Remember what we were told in Crafting the Story - were constantly to be aware that we literates have our own way of telling stories. Primarily oral communicators have their own way as well. It could even be dierent in dierent parts of a country. We need to be able to tell the story as close to the way that they would tell a story, as we can. For instance, in Western Africa, if you listen to local story tellers, you may nd that 50-70% of the story is sung, not told. Some places in West and Southern Africa will even use drums when they tell the story. So we want to be very aware. Telling might include singing. Telling might include

drumming. Telling may include ways in which they tell their stories - and not only may, but we hope, it will.

We want to remember that were trying to tell the story as close as possible to the way in which they would.
As literates telling the story, we are always plagued by the temptation to teach. We are tempted to give an aside here and go into teaching mode there. As we tell the story, we are to stick to the story, remembering the integrity of the text, and were to tell the story as weve prepared it - no modernisations, no asides and no digressions into exposition. One of our colleagues often uses the term here no story interuptus. So be aware, were not to interrupt the story as we are prone to do. In essence, as we tell the story, we need to remember that were giving them an oral Bible. Thats why we are so concerned about telling the story, telling it with integrity, sticking to the text, no asides and no digressions. We are giving them an oral Bible. This is to be uppermost in our concern as we tell the story. We dont want to re-write Gods Word; we dont want to change it in the telling of the story. Were to be very sensitive and careful about this. This is why we should follow the chronology very carefully - this is why it is called chronological Bible storying! It is a title that was chosen to set it apart from other forms of story-telling and narrative presentations. This is chronological Bible storying, where we tell the stories as a part of a story session, setting that story apart and alone as a told story that approximates Gods Word. This is how we are giving them an oral Bible. There are other forms of storying - story-telling, narrative preaching, etc... - but their forms are based on literacy. They assume literacy and that the listeners already have Gods written Word available to them. Chronological Bible storying is based on the premise of telling the story as close to the biblical story as possible, telling it in a way they would tell it. They will memorise it, and they will have an oral Bible with which they can be a minister in any way they want to be, as God calls them, whether they ever learn to read and write or not. So this is telling the story to give them an oral Bible. But isnt there any discussion? Is there any room for the people to ask questions? Yes, there is. In part 5 we will discuss The Role of Dialogue in the Storying Session.

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Note: Article taken from IMB www.imb.org