Story Telling

storytelling 1

Everyone, regardless of age, loves a good story. And one of the most useful skills we learned in the Leadership Matters Course (LMC) was story-telling. There were 38 students and trainers, all missionaries except for us. Everyone was required to tell different types of stories throughout the course and do a devotion. This is so that you can build confidence in being able to communicate effectively in a variety of ways and circumstances.

Jesus told many stories. We call them parables. In fact, in Mt 13:34 “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; He did not say anything to them without using a parable.” A story need not be long. If you read Jesus’ parables in Mt 13, each can be told in 10-40 sec, but they pack deep spiritual insights. During the training we were asked to tell stories about the culture we served in, a spiritual need in our mission field, an end result of our ministry, and a story that answers the question “Is it (your mission) worth it all?” Each story is only 2-3 minutes long, but when you hear the real experiences of your classmates, all of whom have dedicated their life to serve God in the mission field and out of their comfort zone, you get the impression that you were surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who encouraged you to run with perseverance (Heb 12:1).

There are two key components of a good story:
1. A good beginning, and
2. A well-prepared ending.
You need a strong opening to grab the audience’ attention, and you need a strong punch-line to deliver the lesson you wish to convey so that they’ll remember.

To be effective, the opening needs to contain the 3 “magics” to provide the context:
a. When
b. Where
c. Who

Otherwise the audience might be left wondering about the time frame, the locality and the hero of the story.

In seminary we were taught in homiletics class to use illustrations to clarify the points we want to make. But the power of the story had never been demonstrated to us until we observed it in action in LMC. I sympathize with our poor church members or Sunday school class who had to sit through our boring sermons and lectures for years. I’m not downplaying hermeneutics and exegesis, but if you want to improve how much your church learns, as opposed to how hard you’ve studied, try telling more stories. Good stories like Jesus told them. Your members will bless you for it.

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