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Dynamic Story Telling

Capture My Attention...

Captivating the Audience!

Good stories captivate the imagination and attention of a child and provide an excellent way of getting the Gospel across to them,and in communicating values and ideas in an easy to understand way.   Stories teach about life and persist in the memory.  Some people are born story-tellers, but others have story telling thrust upon them.

If you are suffering from lack of experience, all you need to become a good story-teller is a suitable story told in accordance with a few ground rules.  You too can develop a story-teller ministry with the help of God.

How to be a Good Story Teller:

Stories work and God confirms it as He's given us a Bible packed with them, and you can see this when you look at the faces of listeners.  To be a good story teller, first find stories that are suitable for your audience.  They should not last for more than five to ten minutes.

The problem with many excellent book stories is that they have not been written to be told out loud to an audience.  They are too wordy and must first be shortened and adapted to fit into a five to ten minute space.

Then do not just read the story, but make it alive because the Bible is real and true!   Picture the story in your mind to make it real to yourself.  Then make your story descriptive so that the audience can visualise the story in their imaginations.  Lastly, know the story by heart and rehearse it until you can tell it with confidence.

How Not to Tell a Story!

Sit still children!  I'm going to tell you a story today ... Johnnie, stop fidgeting and picking your nose!  Our story is from Luke 5:1-11.  Peter was fishing in the lake all night and caught nothing, so Jesus came along and told him to try again.  This time Peter caught many fish.  Jesus then told him to leave his boat and follow Him, as he would now catch men.  So Peter left everything and followed Jesus.  And now, for your homework ...

You've lost me!

How Rather to Tell a Story:

One day Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, when He saw two fishing boats and some fishermen mending their nets.  Jesus climbed into Simon Peter's boat and said to him, "Please row out a little from shore."  Simon did so and then rested on the oars and mopped his brow as Jesus began to teach the people.  When Jesus had finished, He turned to Simon and said, "Row out into deep water, and then let down your nets for a catch."

Simon stared at Jesus and answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night long and we haven't caught a thing.  But because You say so, I will let down the nets."  And so they lowered the nets over the side, with Simon probably grumbling under his breath, "He's a teacher, but what does He know about fishing?"  Little did he know that the Creator of the world was in his boat and to please Jesus, just about every fish in the lake was going to try and jump into that net!

Simon gasped as he saw silvery bodies leaping into his net.  More and more came until the net was just a mass of wriggling fish.   Simon was horrified as the net began to break!  "Too many!" he yelled as he tried to grab every side of the net at the same time.  "Help!" he screamed to his partners in the other boat, "Come and help us or we're going to lose our net!"

His partners James and John, rowed over as fast as they could and came up with a splash of oars.  Their eyes nearly popped out when they saw Simon knee-deep in fish.  "Quick," he gasped, "Help me and Andrew pull in the net!"  They struggled to pull the net over the side.  Soon both boats were so full of fish that water started to pour in and the boats began to sink!

Simon was astonished at the size of the catch of fish they had taken and so were his partners.  Falling down before Jesus on his knees, he cried, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!"  But Jesus already knew this, and had a great plan for Simon's life, just as He has for each of one of us today.

It does not matter how bad you have been, for Jesus died for every person.  The Bible says that we have all sinned and fallen short of God's standards.  But what did Jesus do?  He just looked lovingly at that rough and ready fisherman and gently said, "Don't be afraid Simon, from now on you will catch men."

Simon must have pointed at himself and said, "Who me Lord?"  And Jesus just smiled and nodded.  So Simon, who became the Apostle Peter, slowly rowed ashore.  With his brother Andrew, and with James and John, they pulled their boats up onto the beach.  They then left everything, fish and all, and followed Jesus and went on to become His followers, and to serve Him all their lives.

We too have had our lives changed, just as Jesus changed Simon Peter and made him into a great preacher.  Jesus wants you to tell your friends and other people what God has done for you, that Jesus lives in your hearts and has changed you into one of God's children.  And that now you love Him and want to serve Jesus with all of your heart!

I must ask as we finish, are you a just fish wriggling in a net?  Or are you going to be a "Fisher of Kids" for Jesus?

Keep Eye Contact!

No matter what you say, it is much more effective if you look at the people you are speaking to.  Storytelling is a shared experience.   Where possible, speak to the children directly.  This means learning the story by heart.  If a Bible text is used, aim to know it sufficiently well so as to be able to quote its significant points.

Be Expressive!

A monotonous delivery drains the life from the best story.  Aim to know your story well enough so that you to maximise its dramatic and emotional appeal.  Work out where atmosphere and excitement could be built up by a pause or by speeding up your story, and suspense can be created by dropping your voice to a whisper.

While you speak, use your body to act out the story with gestures and facial expressions.  To be vivid and convincing, your characters need to speak for themselves.  Where possible, use different voices or accents for various characters, for example, a deep voice for a giant.

Create Interest!

Create interest with historical details and place settings.  Include in your story events, people or circumstances that children will relate to today.  Approach your story from a fresh angle.  For example, in the story of Feeding the Five Thousand, tell it from the point of view of the boy who gave his food to Jesus, or an ant who collected the crumbs!

Use Visual Aids!

Visual aids are important too.  Today's children expect to see as well as hear.  Use illustrations and props if appropriate, or even dress up as the main character in your story.  Your visual aids could take the form of household objects mentioned in the story.

Use illustrations drawn on a whiteboard, where the good news is you do not have to be artistic.  When it comes to drawings, colour matters more than art, and children will love your stick figures!

Audience Interaction:

"What's this?"  You ask, holding up a lop-sided donkey.  If they are a cooperative group, they will tell you it's a donkey and pat themselves on the back for getting the right answer.  A less docile group will yell gleefully "A Monster".  Either way rapport is established and the interaction breaks down barriers and helps the listeners become involved in the story.

With a mixed age-group, strategic questions to older children can aid with helping younger children's comprehension.  Think through your material in advance to assess where such questions may be asked.

Use Sound Effects!

Check the story for sounds which you can make yourself or let the audience can help you with.  For example bangs, crashes, hoof-beats, telephones and footsteps etc.  Prepare the children beforehand if you want them to participate by letting them make the sounds or phrases when you say a key word.  This makes them feel a part of your story and helps them to remember it.

Mime:

If sufficient people are available and there is a suitable performing space, one person can read the story while the others mime the action.   This saves the story-teller the bother of making illustrations.  But resist the temptation to produce it unrehearsed!

Application:

One thing you need to point out is whether your story is true or made up.  True stories tend to carry more weight than made-up stories.   After telling a parable-type story you can say, "This is not a true story, but we can learn something from it."  The children can then help to explain that truth.

Don't let the fact that you may not have enough time to drive home the application or moral stop you from using a story.  Stories often require less reinforcement than lessons to make their point.

Practice!

Storytelling skills improve with practice, so practice often.   It's sometimes helpful to record your voice as you read or tell a story and then listen to yourself the following day to see where you could improve on your delivery.

Pray for God's Annointing!

Finally, know the story well so that you can concentrate on driving home the spiritual truth and application.  Pray for God's anointing and tell it for the children's response and action.   The key for results is being:

Prepared, Prayed-up and Empowered

God bless!

 

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