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Orality, Storying Basics, Tips and Troubleshooting

Good Selection or Good Story?

ChoiceThe five “standard” dialogue questions were not on anyone’s radar back when I learned Bible Storying 20 years ago. Yet, everyone using Bible Storying was finding tremendous results. Here are the standard five dialogue questions:

  1. What did you like?
  2. What did you not like? (What troubled you?)
  3. What did you learn about God?
  4. What did you learn about man?
  5. What do you need to do differently in response?

We still long to control doctrine and we’re not always relying on the Holy Spirit to bring learning through discovery (John 16:13). Avery Willis leaned more to the control side, but praying and seeking the Lord’s guidance every step of the way. If you listen to all 414 Following Jesus recorded storying sessions as I have, you’d discover that the Five were not commonly used. The world-class storying team just couldn’t. Our purpose drilled deeper than the stereotypical Five. It was intentional disciple-making that drove us beyond the Five.

The act of choosing the Bible story drives the story’s meaning and application. If they didn’t get it, then you did a lousy job picking the story. Noah’s Ark wasn’t in a volunteer mission team’s story set for a West African people, but constant rain, flooding, and mud made the environment appropriate for that story to be interjected. Flexibility within a comprehensive plan makes picking the right story extremely important.

We can’t lose sight of the importance of Bible story selection drilling into the heart of a person’s worldview. Are you willing to ask if post-story dialogue questions are even needed for them to understand the Bible Truth? Trust the Holy Spirit to give you the right story at the right time for the right issue. And I’ve come to believe that the questions we use in the post-story dialogue need to vary as the Holy Spirit leads. The “Five” have their place, but thinking through the evangelism or discipleship purposes shape how the discovery process is guided by the Lord, both in the prep and in the storying session.

To make my point, step back and think of any story that you’ve ever told to a child: Tortoise & the Hare. Three Little Pigs. Have you ever once thought about asking children hearing them for the first time any review questions? We hear a story and we get it. Same for jokes, bad puns, and pithy sayings. We use them in selected ways because the telling makes a point.

In the early 1990s, I was involved in a friendly debate with storying pioneer Jim Slack in which he argued whether or not the post-story dialogue was all that useful at all. Dialogue questions were intended early-on as just a verification of the story’s accuracy. Bible Storyers mostly moved from reviewing the story quickly into life application. The need for exegesis has driven the dialogue into the need for a relatively in-depth “heart” portion, not just the “head” (facts) or “hands” (application).


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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