Founded by Cru in 2003, StoryRunners exists to help the world’s 1,600 unreached language groups hear the gospel in a format they understand: oral storytelling. We are passionate about bringing access to God’s Word to people all over the world, and equipping believers everywhere in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting.
What is Oral Communication?
Of the almost 7,000 language groups that exist in the world today, around 4,000 have little or no access to the Bible. How is culture and history passed down in these communities? Through oral storytelling. Over two-thirds of the world’s population are oral communicators. When someone hears the phrase “oral communicator”, they often equate it with “illiterate” or “uneducated”. In some cases that’s true; many people groups around the world have incredibly low literacy rates, low education, and some don’t even have a written language. But being an oral communicator goes deeper than that; it affects the way people perceive the world and interact with information.
Literate communicators tend to think abstractly, whereas oral communicators tend to think concretely. Literate communicators learn from outlines and expositions, whereas oral communicators learn from concrete examples. Many oral communicators can read, but wouldn’t be able to explain to you what they read. Bottom line: if you hand an oral communicator a Bible written in their heart language, they won’t learn from it. In order to reach these people, we need a way to bring them God’s Word, not only in their heart language, but also in a form of communication from which they will naturally and readily learn.
Why use stories?
For thousands of years, the Bible has been passed on as oral stories. The promises God gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were passed down by the Jewish people for generations before Genesis was ever written. The prophets God sent to Israel and Judah delivered oral messages to the people. Jesus used parables when he taught people about the things of God. After Paul planted churches in the places he visited, he would write a letter meant to be read aloud to the church there.
God chose to use people to deliver his messages orally to the world. StoryRunners is joining that long history of Biblical revelation by bringing God’s Word to people all over the world using stories.
How does it work?
We use 42 oral Bible stories to tell the gospel from Creation to the Return of Christ. A StoryRunners team coaches local speakers to develop these stories in one of the 1,800 languages that have no written Bible. Here’s how we do it.
Detailed planning and preparation to select a focus language and to find 18 local speakers to participate in a School of Storying workshop.
Our team leads the School of Storying workshop, coaching local speakers as they develop, test, and refine each Bible story so that it is Biblically accurate, is easily learned and retold, is appropriate to culture, and sounds natural to the hearer.
Throughout the workshop, the participants continuously learn new Bible stories and tell them in the community in one-to-one and small group evangelistic formats.
The workshop culminates with the participants leading Story Groups in their communities so that people hear the Word of God for the first time.
Listen to one of these 42 stories.
School of Storying
STORIES and songs … that’s how people in many language groups pass down their culture, history and values. Oral Bible storying speaks to them! An oral Bible story is an abbreviated and simplified version of a Biblical passage. Our vision is to help people in 500 unreached language groups hear the gospel in a way they can understand and to equip them to grow in a community of faith.
StoryRunners developed the School of Storying, a short workshop that produces a set of 42 oral Bible stories from Creation to the Return of Christ. We ensure each story is biblically accurate, is easily learned and retold, is appropriate to culture, and sounds natural to the hearer. We focus on developing the stories, as well as teaching principles of evangelism, discipleship, and church planting through a story group (small group discussion of a story). Each day the participants learn new stories and share them in the local community with the intention of starting a story group and launching a multiplying movement of followers of Jesus.
What is a Story Group?
A Story Group is a small-group Bible study … the group hears and discusses a story from the Bible. Each individual learns the story so they can share it with others. The learning and application time is driven by group discussion, and the leader simply guides the discussion by asking questions. As the group meets week after week, moving chronologically through each story from Creation to the Return of Christ, the participants see God’s plan unfolding in a new and exciting way.
The beauty of the Story Group is its simplicity. Anyone who knows the story and a few basic questions can lead a group. An individual learns to lead a story group by experiencing a story group first hand. Not only does this simplicity aid in the multiplication of the group, but the members learn more as they discover how God is speaking to them through the story and they share those insights with the group. Whether the participants are male or female, young or old, wealthy or poor, educated or illiterate, everyone can learn from a story!
StoryRunners is a ministry of Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ). We launched in 2003 to help reach oral learners with the greatest story ever told, especially to those who have never heard the gospel in their own language. We began as a founding member of the OneStory partnership with a vision to accelerate the work of Bible story development among unreached language groups. Since then, we have continued to partner with mission agencies around the world to reach people with the good news of the gospel.
Campus Crusade for Christ was started in 1951 by Bill and Vonette Bright. What started as a ministry to students on college campuses now touches the lives of people in every segment of society and every corner of the world, helping build spiritual movements everywhere, so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus. For more information about Cru, please visit cru.org.