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Discipleship, Storying Basics, Tips and Troubleshooting

To Background or Not to Background

Your small group leaders just asked you for Bible background material to start a new Bible Storying series with his group. Your mind races to the expositional, verse-by-verse material you’ve often read as a teacher prior to Bible Storying. Should you provide it or not?

You weigh the benefits and consequences. On one hand, it provides the biblical background that will help guide the leader in case of some doctrinal tangent. On the other hand, the temptation is overwhelming to teach that material when there’s a lull in the dialogue.

I’ve co-taught this with former Sunday School teachers who were “really good teachers.” But when the background material is there, they jump in with it rather than seeking to guide others to address the issue, especially a doctrinal one.

Being a small group facilitator in Bible Storying rather than a teacher/lecturer/source is preferred to draw out spiritual truths. It also makes reproducibility much more intentional. I don’t think they’ll be “pooling their ignorance” as some might wonder, but allowing the Holy Spirit more opportunities to make disciples. It’s the element of reproducibility that is at stake here.

Over the past dozen years that I’ve been in Bible Storying, the only people that introduce doctrinal tangents tend to be those steeped in literate worldview Bible training. Rank and file small group leaders want to stick to the narrative and the Bible Truths found there. And, hey, I’ve seen my fair share of literate worldview small group teachers teaching from a printed manual, but ignore the background material and introduce their own superstitions and syncretistic beliefs rather than the text anyway. I’m sure you’ve got your own collection of horror stories.

 The main thing for Bible Storying small group facilitators to do is to stick to the story and lead the group in guided questions that draw out biblical truths that bring spiritual transformation. Doctrinal questions may be best answered in another story told at a later time or addressed briefly right then or after seeking godly counsel, can be shared in the next session. That is different from providing the background material in advance for every session.

About Mark Snowden

TruthSticks originated from the book I co-authored with the late Avery Willis. Truth That Sticks: How to Communicate Velcro Truths in a Teflon World was the book and this blog and Bible studies have resulted. It's great to be partnering with churches who are committed to making disciple-makers. Request a catalog of Bible studies using orality at SnowdenMinistries@gmail.com.

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