What's the deal with orality?

Eighty percent of the world’s population identify as oral learners1. When someone hears the term “oral learner,” they often assume the person is illiterate or uneducated. In some cases that’s true; many people groups around the world have low literacy rates, low education and some don’t even have a written language. However, even literate, well-educated people can prefer to learn orally. Being an oral learner affects the way people perceive the world and interact with information. Truth for oral learners relates to their real-life experiences and is transmitted person to person. They learn in community with other people, they relate the message to their culture and they store the message in their memory.
An estimated 90% of the world’s Christian workers presenting the gospel use highly literate communication styles2. Yet if you were to hand an oral learner a Bible in their heart language, it wouldn’t best speak to their heart either because a) they cannot read or b) they don’t best learn by reading. Oral cultures are not print-oriented and do not respond well to forms of witnessing, discipling, teaching and preaching that are based on print3. As the ones bringing the message of the gospel, it is the church’s responsibility to communicate the good news in a way that resonates with the hearts of their audience.
Oral learners find it easier to pass along their faith if they have heard the gospel in a way that fits their normal style of communication4. To reach oral learners with Scripture, we must communicate biblical truth with them in a way that speaks to their hearts: oral Bible storytelling. Oral Bible stories communicate the Word of God to oral learners in a way that is relational, concrete and memorable. StoryRunners reaches oral learners by equipping people to develop oral Bible stories in order to launch church planting movements among unreached people who don’t have access to the Bible.

Learn more: To learn more about orality, StoryRunners recommends “Making Disciples of Oral Learners,” published by the International Orality Network. You can listen to the audiobook or download it as a free PDF.

[1] https://orality.net/about/who-are-oral-communicators/
[2] Making Disciples of Oral Learners: Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and International Orality Network, 2005. Page 3.
[3] The Extent of Orality: 2012 Update by Grant Lovejoy; Orality Journal, Volume 1, Number 1, 2012. Page 11
[4] The Extent of Orality: 2012 Update by Grant Lovejoy; Orality Journal, Volume 1, Number 1, 2012. Page 30

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