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Orality, Storying Basics, Tips and Troubleshooting

Beware Orality Wannabes

Storying around   Have you noticed that the use of “story” in titles is hot stuff? Some even use it in their subtitles to draw interest. Be on your guard that not all “story” materials are useful in addressing orality. They’re just gimmicky and often misleading.

   Not saying these guys are wrong, but typical of capturing the story idea. From Ben Arment’s annual STORY Conference (creative worship) to Max Lucado’s God’s Story Your Story to Zondervan’s NIV The Story and beyond, there is tremendous over-exposure to what we used to “own” just five years ago.

   J. O. Terry, a Bible Storying pioneer once told me that in the early days, he and Jim Slack caught flack because the word storytelling sounded too much like lying. They looked around for a better descriptor and found one in the management world. A book was out called Managing by Storying Around (Crown Business 1992). The way that David Alexander described storying in leadership was similar to what J. O. and Jim envisioned in missions. Rather than having to lecture, people learned truth vicariously in the story. And so the name was introduced and it stuck. And still, the word “storying” doesn’t work for everyone. Some still flinch at anything sounding like a story as if it were made-up; fictional. For instance, I’ve heard “Bible Telling” and “Truth Telling.” That’s awesome!

   So, beware of those jumping on the story bandwagon. Many are just “wanabes” — people who want to be associated with storytelling, but not address orality issues. Test what you’re hearing to see if it really is for those with an oral preference who can’t, won’t, or don’t read. And if you want to name your own Bible Storying efforts something unique, go for it!

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.


2 thoughts on “Beware Orality Wannabes

  1. Mark, I still get occasional questions about the use of “storying” in Bible Storying. The original intent was not to be innovative or even to begin a trend, but to describe in a unique way the methodology. It was more than “Bibletelling” though that was certainly part of it. And it was definitely more than just “storytelling.” At the time a focus on the told Bible story as primary was needed. The original concept did borrow from New Tribes methodology like used in God and Man and Chronological Bible Storytelling (54 Bible Stories). Slack used the term “dialogue” to describe the post story processing time to imply a two-way inductive discussion. I’ve used other words to describe the pre and post-story dialogue time but it is still a time of talking together as leader and listeners. The two things that I have strictly observed is first never to use “storying” without qualifying it as Bible Storying. The second and this is like a copyright issue of always capitalizing “Storying” as in “Bible Storying” as it describes or labels a unique methodology that includes telling and teaching Bible stories and encouraging learning/teaching activities sensitive to oral learners. I rejoice that by whatever name the method is called and used that it now belongs to the Great Commission Christian world and, of course, people are free to use their own terminology. Though I promise to roll over in my grave if it is abused or misused.


    Posted by J.O.Terry | September 1, 2014, 1:48 am

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