Biblical Storytelling Is As Cool As You Think It Is


I told the Passion story on Friday, using the text of John 18-20. I did it Biblical Storyteller style, from memory and down on the sanctuary floor. It’s the longest story I’ve ever done, so I broke it into three parts. It worked.

Every time I do this I remember anew why memorizing Biblical stories to tell in this style is so effective, particularly for the storyteller. Verbalizing a text is such a fundamentally different way of processing and learning it than analyzing a printed text. I spend about as much time preparing to tell a story as I do exegeting a passage to preach, and with equally rich rewards. When you say the words of a story out loud 20-plus times you notice things that you miss by just reading it.

For example, in John’s Passion story both Judas and Peter are noted by the author to be “standing with” people, Judas with those who are arresting Jesus and Peter with the crowd in the High Priest’s courtyard during Jesus’ trial. I never noticed before the impact of the statements that they were “standing with” those two groups of people (instead, of course, of “standing with” Jesus). I doubt that would have caught my attention if I had not been saying “Standing with” over and over and over again.

If you haven’t tried this, do. It’s easy to start. I use this handy narrative analysis guide to prepare most of the time.

Or email me. Before I tried this for the first time I reached out to a colleague who does it all the time, and the input and advice she gave me was invaluable, not just for doing it effectively but for maintaining the nerve to go through with it at all. I’m eager to pay that forward.


4 thoughts on “Biblical Storytelling Is As Cool As You Think It Is

  1. Hi Rocky,

    I’ve been wanting to use biblical storytelling for a long time now, but the idea of memorizing scripture scares me to death! :-/ Your post is very encouraging! 😊 I clicked on the analysis link, but it looks like the link might be bad. Would you be willing to forward it to me? Thanks so much! Looking forward to giving it a try…(I think!). :-O

    Easter blessings,

    Michelle James

    Allen Park Presbyterian Church

    7101 Park Ave

    Allen Park MI 48101

  2. Elin’s father was, for years, the President of the National Bible Story Tellers Association. When she was 7 years old, she was his prompter as he memorized his first story. So, rather than naming our first born Dick, after his grandfather, we still kinda named him after Elin’s father. That’s why our son is named Jonah…

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