Good storytelling can make listeners focus on what we wish to communicate.
Throughout past centuries many cultures have held their storytellers in public reverence. They were the ones who kept safe the tribe’s past, its beliefs and practices. Many faiths were passed down in oral tradition, even before they were captured in written form; and religious teachers, including Jesus used this medium to communicate vital spiritual truths.
Most biblical parables offer no names for the characters portrayed, nor do they often refer to any specific town, so the tales could be called fiction (the parable of the good Samaritan being an exception, Luke 10:30-39). Scripture can even include a fable as its story line: in Judges 9:1-21 the trees of the orchard one by one turn down the offer of becoming king, preferring to bear fruit, leaving the rough bramble to accept the vacant role of ruler. In this instance the audience knew exactly the individuals being referred to.
There has been a resurgence in storytelling in my lifetime from ancient Greek and Roman legends, from local folk tales and the stories of faith of people today.
Biblical storytelling in its strictest form is ‘text telling’, a means of memorising the Scriptural text with great accuracy. It is also an effective way of sharing the gospel stories.
Sources of well-told stories
I have gathered two groups of stories: (A) Bible events as they would have been re-told by persons who experienced them; and (B) others that are ‘yarns’ that convey biblical truths.
Some of the stories were written by me. And I hope I have given correct credits for those I have borrowed from other authors. A few stories I published years ago, but I’ve since added sub-headings to slow the pace of the tale for the benefit of readers tempted to skim through and miss the impact of the storyline. So, please savour each event as it unfolds. As a Scottish preacher generations ago liked to pause during his sermon to advise his hearers: ‘Put that on your tongue and suck it like a sweetie’.
A). Bible tales revisited
- I just wanted to give Jesus some practical advice (See John 3:1-21; 5:1-18; 8:1-11)
- I tried to defend Jesus (See John 19:28-42)
- Why I’m walking tall under my bed (See John 5:1-15)
- Rahab’s day of deliverance (by Mel Ashworth; see Joshua 2:24; 6:1-27))
- How a poor unknown foreign captive girl helped a rich important general. See 2 Kings 5:1-27)
- Prayer at Mary’s house (See Acts 12:1-19)
- My life-changing touch (by Mel Ashworth; see Luke 9:40-48))
- The boy whose donkey Jesus rode (See Luke 19:28-34)
B). Modern yarns that convey Bible truths
- The penitent’s substitute (by W F P Burton; see John 1:28-40))
- A much loved old pot (2 Corinthians 4:1-18)
- Hidden garden treasures (Psalm 25:14 The Passion Translation, ‘There’s a private place reserved for the lovers of God, where they sit near him and receive the revelation — secrets of his promises’; King James Version, ‘The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him’)
- Good luck, bad luck, only time will tell (by Melea Brock; see Romans 8:26-30)
- That’s not repentance –that’s ego-preservation (‘I gave the names’, by Adrian Leftwitch; Psalm 19:12)
- Be sure your sins will find you out (‘Kiss and don’t tell’, by Jon MacGregor; see Numbers 32:23, in their context of 32:1-37)
7.’Famously disqualified’ (by Roberta Winterton; see 2 Timothy 2:1-5))