Helps for Successful Storying

Teaching every story in the Bible, a list of all the major truths, a theological system, or to completing a series of stories is not the goal of storying! If learning, understanding, and clear communication are kept at the center of what you are doing, you will have success. Some of the things required or suggested for successful storying are:

Patience and diligence

Donít get in a hurry. Donít plan other events after storying time. Oral listeners are not usually in a hurry. Allow plenty of time for the people to gather and get settled in.

Plan on repeating yourself. Some people will come late. Others will want to hear the story again. Some may want to tell a story for you. The goal is learning and storying is interactive learning.

Review, Review, Review. Most people will not know a story until they have heard it three times.

Get the people to give the review. Pick previous hearers and get them to repeat what they can remember, with hints from you or other hearers. Don't forget to compliment those who remember the stories and help others!

Evaluate. Do not assume that hearers have learned a story just because they can answer questions immediately after the story. How much they can remember from week to week is much more important!

Accept interruptions. Babies will cry. People will come or leave. Hearers will discuss the story among themselves. The listeners do not bother about interruptions, so we should not allow them to bother us!

Donít get upset when your language is corrected. Be a learner too! If someone interprets what you say into better language, so be it. Learn from what they say! There is nothing more important than clear presentation of the Gospel. Anything we can do to improve our presentation is good.

Mastery of the story

Prepare! No matter how familiar the story is to you, you'll give a better presentation if you study the story before telling it.

You MUST know the story. If you cannot remember the story, with your background and studies of the Bible, it is unlikely that the hearers will remember it.

Try NOT to use notes. Using notes adds an air of artificiality. Notes can inhibit innovation. Presentations that are complicated enough to require notes are probably too complicated for oralists to follow and remember.


Do everything you can to make the story interesting. Can you imagine listening to a preacher who preaches without changing his voice, follows an outline rigidly, or reads his sermon in a monotone? People donít listen long to presentations that are not interesting. They will remember much better that which has been presented captivatingly.

Use Drama, acting, different voices, movement, and props to improve your presentation. Often I will get a listener to help me as I direct them to act out a small part of the story. Don't be shy!

Emphasize what is important. For example, in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the sins of the city are less important than Godís rescue of Lot and his daughters and the results of his wifeís disobedience. If you do much more than mention the more-colorful aspects of some stories, thatís what your hearers will remember. Focus on the truths in every story.

Visual Aids

Pictures and non-abstract items can add to the story and serve as visual reminders of truths. God used many visual aids in the Bible such as the Lordís Supper and the Tephilim, the little scripture-boxes the Israelites wore on their heads and wrists. Here are a few ideas for your use of visual aids:

The pictures on the scarf were designed to communicate the subject of the stories without being distracting. They are simple, so the hearers can grasp the picture quickly. The pictures are consistent, so main characters can be followed from frame to frame. And, they are designed to help people in less-developed areas identify with biblical characters by incorporating common items they should recognize.

Printed pictures can be a great help or a great distraction. Think color and large. Pictures illustrating the first few stories often have fascinating animals, nudity, and violence associated with them. Show the pictures briefly and then place them face down in your lap, especially the pictures involving nudity. Or, pass the pictures around and let them be looked at and discussed thoroughly before starting that part of the story. There is no need to tell the story while hearers are engrossed in a picture.

Objects from the listener's everyday lives are also useful. How strong an impression the crucifixion makes if they can hold a large nail and feel how sharp it is! They may remember the story of the feeding of the 5,000 when they see bread and fish! A mud brick may help them identify with the Israelites in Egypt. Keep the objects simple and allow people time to hold and discuss them.

Scripture should be treated with utmost respect. If you read the scripture associated with each story, do not lay the Bible on the ground. Your well-used personal highlighted Bible with your hand-written notes is not the best thing for Muslims to see. You may want to wash your hands, take off your shoes, or pray before reading the scripture. Carrying your Bible in a special pouch may help Muslims see that you honor scripture.


Muslims appreciate prayer. You should begin and end each story time with prayer, using whatever forms are appropriate to your hearers. I end prayer time with a time of greeting, smiling, and shaking hands as is the custom of Muslims -- a custom we could use in the church!

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