Telling the Bible Story

It is important that our children not only learn Bible facts, but that they also understand the lessons of the Bible history. Besides the regular reading of the Bible at the table and in family worship, we should use Bible stories as a means to bring across what the Bible has to teach us.

Telling the actual story.
Each person will tell the story in his or her own way, because it is his or her story for his or her loved ones. I cannot tell you how to tell the story yourself, you will have to find your own way, but I can warn you of a number of dangers that may make your story weak or even a failure. As you practice this skill and reflect on how your loved ones were listening and how you were telling the story yourself, you will find your own weaknesses and your own strengths. As with all things there will be good times and difficult ones.

1. Let no other things interfere with your story.
You will have to set the time and opportunity for your story. Try to prevent as many interruptions as possible. We all know what the telephone can do. You cannot prevent all interruptions, but with some effort you can limit the chances of interruption considerably if you plan properly and take proper precautions.

2. Do not make your story a series of facts only.
You have to try to see and live-in the story along with your listeners. A proper preparation will make that much easier. You may take certain freedoms in making a story as long as the details do not overshadow the actual message, and as long as it does fit the time and circumstances. It is good to make the story from the point of view of one character. This makes it easier for children to follow and identify with. It also makes it easier to tell.

3. Include all children while telling the story.
Look in turn at each for a brief moment to make them feel you are telling it for them. Focus on those who seem to wander off in thought, without making it too obvious. Anticipate questions or remarks, particularly if the story is familiar. Make it clear to your children that while you tell you do not want to be interrupted. Use body language it necessary to make it clear.

4. Do not make your story sensational.
It is important to show self-restraint. Bible stories in particular demand respect, soberness, and a clear focus on what is most important. By adding too much interesting detail the main message may disappear. Your children may remember the pain of Goliath much better than the miraculous-  salvation God wrought through David because of the way you tell.

5. Do not forget the surprise.
Never give away the main message in the introduction to the story. ”Now I am going to tell you about a bad king who was put in prison for his wickedness and afterwards repented and was made king again,” gives away the whole story. The same story about King Manasseh could also be introduced as follows: ”I am going to tell you about a king who was very wicked. Listen to what he did and what happened to him.” The story teller should be as curious about the outcome of the story as his or her listeners. With Bible stories it may seem more difficult to have the surprise because the stories are so well-known. However, in reality this is not difficult as long as you tell the story properly. Familiar family events are told over and over again, and often they bring about the same reaction. Children like to hear again what they have heard before, as long as you tell well. In good tellers and listeners the old becomes new again. By approaching it from a different point of view, or by using a different main message, you obtain old and new things.

6. Sidetracking and interruptions in the story should be avoided.
Do not try to explain the meaning of a difficult word or an unfamiliar object during your story. It takes the attention away from the main message and it breaks the flow of your story. If necessary you should give such information before- hand, or afterwards. Telling a story should not be an exercise in reading or vocabulary. Avoid unnecessary details or digressions. Add only those details of location, habits, clothing, etc., that add flesh to your story.

7. Avoid all false effects.
We have to make the story appealing else our playful and restless children will not listen. However, false effects, such as loud voice, lots of gestures, excitement, wailing, screaming, etc., break the atmosphere surrounding the story and make children extremely uncomfortable. They may grab momentarily the attention of your children, but they do not help to bring the real message in the hearts of your children. Be yourself in the telling of the story, tell in a lively manner, but don’t look for drama. The stories of the Bible are dramatic enough in themselves, we don’t have to add any of our spices. God was in the still voice, not in the thunder, the wind, or the fire.

8. Don’t be overly expressive.
Some people pull a special face and take on a special voice when they say a text from the Bible or discuss religious things. They seem to try to stress in this way the holiness of the Word or the seriousness of the subject. Some story tellers try to do the same thing. This is plainly wrong. True respect is always simple and open, and it is in the heart of the person. It needs no special embellishment or show from the outside. However, this does not mean that you can take the Bible story as if you are telling any story, with jovial jokes and smart remarks. This is also very improper and show a serious lack of both inward and outward respect. We are telling about holy things which should be done in an atmosphere of respect, of humility, of marvel and of wonder.

9. Use Bible language appropriately.
We have to make sure that we use Bible language at the right time and in the right place. Only careful study and prayerful effort can teach each Bible story teller to retell Gods Word in the best way. If we expect our story to make.e an impression on our listeners so that they will listen with respect to Gods Word, we have to be respectful to that Word and its Giver ourselves. Only then will we be kept from profane words and expressions, which damage the holiness of the story, However, a continual quotation of difficult text and Bible language can also become quite profane!

10. The application should be made continually and carefully.
The most difficult part of the Bible story is the application. Jesus ordered His disciples to ”suffer” the children to come to Him. He added, ”and forbid them not.” We have to take great care that our listeners do not misinterpret the application. All through our story we have to keep our eye on the spiritual lesson of the story. The application must he the soul of the story. Without a soul the body is dead. So. the application should glow throughout the whole story and not be added as an appendix. Our children know exactly when to stop listening: when we begin to ”preach," they wander off. Short and pointed applications throughout the story heIp the child realize that it is not another story they can listen to without being personally addressed by it. Singing a Psalter or quoting a text can be a very proper way to end the story and put its message in proper focus. At other times you may end up discussing our own actions in the light of those of a Bible character in your story.

11. Don’t expect very pious results in your children because of serious stories.
The fact that children may re-focus very quickly after a story on ordinary things, games, etc,, does not mean that the story did not affect them. Children react differently to serious and painful situations and events than adults do. This does not mean that they are less serious, or shallower in feeling. It is their way of coping with hurt and pain, and the difficult questions of life, Be patient and understanding in that respect. Don’t expect immediate fruits from the seed just sown. Leave the fruitfulness and increase to the great Husbandman and in due season it shall ripen according to His purpose.

Telling Bible stories is not an easy thing, particularly when we are new to it, As we practice this skill, we will probably become even more dependent ourselves. On the other hand, telling them gives us and our children so much more opportunity to be addressed by the Word of God. May the Lord stir us up to be busy with the things of eternal value. both for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren. Stories shape the character of our youngest children and will affect their thinking and dealing for the remainder of their lives, even in an outward sense, The Jewish culture is a clear proof of this. By God’s grace and purpose the Christian heritage is our heritage and that of our children. Let us not ignore so important a means, but labor patient]y and faithfully with the means we have, and let us pray that God may bless it also inwardly.