A Faithful Retelling

by Karen Sowden

Senior Staffworker Karen Sowden explains the bible storytelling method some EU students are experimenting with in evangelism.

karen3The practice of storytelling means using your own words to faithfully and accurately represent a bible story, using voice, actions and emotions to engage your audience. Churches across Sydney are learning about storytelling from Christine Dillon, author of Telling the Gospel Through Story. Dillon is currently home from the mission field, and has teaching others the storytelling method she has successfully used in Asia. During my studies at Sydney Missionary & Bible College (SMBC) she has inspired me to share the storytelling method  with the EU’s students and staff.

Telling bible stories isn’t rocket science, so why does it interest us so much? Maybe it’s because, according to SMBC lecturer Sam Chan, four out of five of Australians prefer to learn through concrete examples, like stories. People love stories and the bible is full of them.

In semester two, eight students and I learned a seven bible stories that tell the story of salvation from creation to Jesus’ birth. The students practiced by sharing their stories with people passing by, and were surprised by how willing people were to listen, give feedback and share their thoughts. We also gathered our friends in a busy thoroughfare to share the whole seven stories, summarising the whole Old Testament in 43 minutes!

While there are clear benefits for the listener, what about the storyteller? It has forced me to think deeply about why I’m telling the story and what it means. Why does God give us this strange story?! It’s also helped me to think hard about my audience, what ideas they might not understand and how to best present it to them.

These first experiences with storytelling have formed an initial step in thinking about the possible use of storytelling in evangelism and teaching. Pray that this practice might enable us to more effectively share the story of God’s salvation with Sydney Uni campus.

You can see videos of the seven stories on Christine Dillon’s website: www.storyingthescriptures.com.

Students putting their storytelling skills into practice on Eastern Avenue.

Students putting their storytelling skills into practice on Eastern Avenue.

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