Biblical storytelling is the practice of telling stories from the Bible by heart. Here are just a few of my favorite reasons for telling biblical stories:
- The stories that we tell form us. In learning to tell biblical stories, we deepen our formation–we become formed by God’s story–and begin to see our own stories as deeply connected to the story of God.
- Scripture was initially an oral tradition. It’s meant to be told and retold! Through biblical storytelling, we reconnect with the original oral tradition through which scripture was passed down through the generations.
- When we tell someone a story, we are more likely to be connected to that person. Stories form relationships–with God AND others.
- Storytelling is great for all types of learners.
- Storytelling is transformative.
Who can tell biblical stories? ANYONE!!!
Are you sure? My memory is terrible! Yes, I am sure. If this ADHD pastor (who can’t recall the details of the book I just put down) can learn scripture by heart, so can you. The key is in not just memorizing scripture, but internalizing it…connecting with it…making it your own story. I have learned that I can remember the story pretty well if it actually means something to me.
How closely do you follow the text? It varies, but I generally aim at 90-100% accuracy (though it’s hard to measure accuracy when you consider that every translation is an interpretation already). I start with the NRSV and go from there. (When I am practicing, however, I often begin by telling the story in my own words.)
Making Storytelling Choices
Storytelling the Bible has the ability to immerse the teller and the watcher in the biblical text. The storyteller must make interpretive choices when embodying the text. There may be instances in which you find yourself bothered by a teller’s interpretation of the text. TERRIFIC! Ask yourself: What about this interpretation is bothering me? What is at stake? If I were the teller, how would I have done it differently? How does it change how we experience or what we believe about God, etc.? On the other hand, if you were drawn in by the story–TERRIFIC! What was it about the story that made a connection for you? How does it connect with your understand of God?
How can I learn more about biblical storytelling?
Check out the Network of Biblical Storytellers, Int’l . They taught me everything I know about biblical storytelling. If you are truly interested in digging deeper, read Dr. Tom Boomershine’s book Story Journey: An Invitation to the Gospel as Storytelling. Dr. Boomershine is the founder of NBS and a New Testament scholar.