During family devotions on the spies in Canaan, a teenager lurched forward, “You mean that there’s a Caleb in the Bible?” She happened to be dating a guy by that name and the story suddenly had new relevance. This young lady knew about the exodus and the 10 commandments, but there was a gap in her biblical timeline.
Putting together a story set is not difficult when you know the people among whom you begin disciplemaking efforts, but linking a biblical chronology is one technique that can improve your group’s interaction with God’s word.
Reece’s Chronological Bible has an index that includes some 500 to 700 Bible stories. I’m not that bad at counting, it’s just that some stories like Joseph can be one story or broken into three to five stories. It’s not expected that you’ll tell every story!
Gapping the time gaps is a thoughtful gesture by the small group leader. My favorite example is: “Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt” (Exodus 1:8 NIV). This is an easy time “placeholder” that permits the hearer to understand that many years passed and we don’t want to take the time to recount everything that happened.
When prepared in advance, a story set can be based on genealogies, lives of the prophets, a purposeful timeline, or a series of composite stories (especially when time is tight). People in your group invest emotionally in learning about these Bible characters who become their new heroes. So be kind and summarize their lives before moving on to new people.
The Lord provided the chronologies in Numbers and Matthew 1 for a purpose. Oral learners care that Ruth was King David’s grandmother. Even if you don’t tell the story of Ruth in your story set, it’s okay to mention her, summarize her story, and explain you’ll come back later (and then do it!).
When beginning a new Bible Storying session, it is an opportunity to put the narrative in context of the Big Picture of God, filling in the gaps as you go.