So you are interested in telling a story? Wonderful! But you may be asking, ‘How do I go about telling a story in an evangelistic or devotional setting?’ If so, this is the guide for you! There are two main ways that we in StoryRunners tell stories.
Using Stories Evangelistically
Stories can be used to great effect in evangelism. When you are initiating a spiritual conversation, people are usually very open to hearing a story, especially if it relates to something that is going on in their life. They also provide a natural bridge to turn a regular conversation into a spiritual one. For example, one time a friend of mine was telling me about how she was struggling with anger and pain from an abusive situation in her childhood. I told her that there was hope, and that Jesus could help her. “He has freed people from many things that seemed hopeless,” I told her. “In fact, there’s a story from the Bible about this.” I then told her the Freed story–the story of the demon-possessed man being set free by Jesus. My friend couldn’t help but relate to the man, and we had a really deep discussion about how Jesus could set her free as well.
In reality, there are many stories that could have related to my friend’s situation. She was looking for healing, so I could have told her a story of one of the healing miracles of Jesus, like the Life story. She might have been able to relate to the woman in the Forgiven story, or the paralyzed man in the Authority story. It doesn’t matter what story you tell. Just listen to the Holy Spirit and let Him guide you, and He will bring the right story to your mind.
For more information on using stories evangelistically, contact us.
Sharing Stories in a Small Group
You can also share stories in a small group devotional setting, whether with believers, non-believers, or a mix of both. I guarantee that telling a story in this setting will help the people in the group look at God’s Word in a fresh new way, especially if they are Christians and have been around the church a long time. It might be awkward the first time or two, but it will soon become much more natural.
When you decide to tell a story in a small group, remember that we want this to be a devotional time. When discussing a story, it is common for some people (Americans especially!) to want to analyze the story and critique how it’s different from the actual Bible passage. That is not the point of what you are doing, so if that happens, it’s your job to gently move the discussion from the head back to the heart. Also, as the leader, it can be tempting to “teach” the others what you think the story says. The story should be the teacher, not you, and to that end we want the questions you ask to be open-ended and discussion-driven.
Okay, let’s talk logistics. Story groups work best in groups of 4-8 people, but you can do it with more or less. Arrange your chairs in a circle so that everyone can see everyone else. If you normally start your group with worship, prayer, announcements, games, food, or anything else, go ahead!
Learning the Story
When it’s time to tell the story, we have a simple formula that makes sure that everyone first learns the story and then discusses it:
- The storyteller tells the story.
- Storyteller tells the story again (encourage the group to really listen closely this time!)
- The group puts the story together piece by piece. What happens first? Then what happens? Then what happens? How does it end?
- The storyteller tells the story again with some kind of memory aid. This can be having everyone act out the story as a drama, doing hand motions, giving everyone a sentence or two and going around the circle, using objects like keys and cell phones to dramatize the story, or whatever other creative thing you can think of!
- Everyone divides into pairs and tells the story to each other.
- Gather the group back together and have a brave volunteer tell the story to the entire group. They should be able to tell it without any significant omission or distortion. If they’re still having trouble, you can always go through the learning method again.
Discussing the Story Devotionally
At this point, everyone in the group should be able to tell the story. Congratulations! Now it’s time to discuss the story devotionally. We have a set of five basic questions that we use. Please note that once you get used to telling stories in a group, you are free to use whatever questions you think of, and if the discussion branches, you can ask follow-up questions. These are guidelines, not rules, but they are a great starting point and will get your group really thinking about the story. Overall, let the Holy Spirit be your guide, and don’t be afraid to go deep and really dig to the heart of the issues that are brought up in response to the story. The five questions are:
- What did you like about the story?
- What did you dislike about the story? What was difficult to believe/understand in it?
- What does this story teach us about the character of God?
- What does this story show us about our own sinful condition?
- What is one thing you will change in your life as a result of hearing this story? What does God want you to do?
Other great questions could be:
- Which character in this story do you most relate to?
- What in this story connects to the larger redemptive theme of the Bible?
- What really hit you in a new way when you heard this story?
- Who are you going to tell the story to, now that you’ve learned it?
Like I said, the key is a great Biblically-based discussion. Feel free to supplement these questions with ones of your own! You can end with prayer, or a song, or however you feel comfortable.
And that’s it! You’ve now successfully lead a small group storying study!