3 Simple Ways You Can Use Storytelling for Better Bible Study
In fact, some Bible stories are not so kid-friendly! You guys know I'm all about using the best tools to do better Bible study. One of my favorite learning strategies is using story and storytelling for better Bible study. After all, 75% of the Bible is story, and it was one of Jesus' favorite ways to teach. It's one of the reasons I think Christians should read fiction. So I wanted to take a moment to share with you 3 simple ways you can use storytelling for better Bible study.
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#1 Stories Build a Bridge to Real Life
Stories are concrete – even fairy tales. We identify on a real level with a character or a situation. It's very different from how we connect with a 3 point sermon. Stories help us understand the context of a particular scripture (if well prepared!) and how it connects with our world today. They help put us on the scene. For example, when we hear the story of Hannah from 1 Samuel 1-2, we can identify with that feeling of hopelessness when it seems like our prayers keep going unanswered. When we hear a story and connect with someone in that story, we place ourselves and our lives in God's story. We can use storytelling for better Bible study by telling the story and then asking questions such as “who in this story is like me or someone I know?”
Stories are memorable. When we practice telling a story, we find that it is easy to remember the big ideas. If you learned the story of David and Goliath as a kid, you probably can remember it mostly now. It's the same with other Bible stories. Points from a sermon can be hard to remember, but stories stay with us because they are not abstract; they connect with our hearts (see above).
Since so much of Scripture is story, storytelling can help us to practice and recall huge amounts of God's word. Maybe we don't remember word-for-word, but enough to be able to bring it to mind in a situation. And since most stories have many ideas we can learn from them (not just one), carrying around a story gives you the ability to use God's Word – and the many lessons there – to interpret your own life. When you remember a particular story, you can keep applying it to the right situations in your life.
For example, with Hannah's story, you can use it to reflect on prayer (pouring out your heart to God) or on why bad things happen to good people, or on God's plan for our world. We can use storytelling for better Bible study by repeating the stories to each other. In my middle school youth group, I would tell the story, ask several students to tell it back to me, and then start asking questions.
#3 Stories are Shareable
Stories make for a great Bible study tool because they are not just memorable; they are shareable. Once you have learned that story and are carrying it around with you, you can share with a friend or a family member on a moment's notice. For example, I taught my girls club girls the story of Hagar and the God who Sees. A few months later, I heard one of my girls telling that story to a new friend who was hurting and discouraged. That girl was able to share the story from memory! Many stories are suitable to share and encourage a friend regardless of whether the friend is already a follower of Jesus! We can use storytelling for better Bible study by asking the question “who do you know that needs to hear this story?”
Want to try out some story-based Bible study? I have a free set of story-based discussion questions you can use for the Hannah story in 1 Samuel 1-2. You can access the download by filling out the form below.
Have you ever used storytelling in your Bible study?
How have you seen story at work in Bible study or teaching? What would you like to try? Let me know in the comments below!