Sometimes storytellers take kids for granted. After all, Bible storytelling isn’t so difficult. And they’re kids right? They follow along wherever you take them. What choice do they have? So we put anyone on stage, hand the person a Bible, and say “Go!”
Truth be told, that just doesn’t cut it. Telling the Greatest Story Ever Told deserves more than slap on the back and a “you can do it” to reach into the hearts of young ones. We need to know what we’re doing.
Sharing the Bible story in church (or wherever) should be treated with both respect and care for the art of storytelling. While people spend years developing the craft of making words come to life in the imaginations of people everywhere, there are a few simple ideas that you can use that will help you tell a great story.
Every story starts with words. These are words either given to you in a script or words that you’ve developed on your own to share what’s on your heart. Either way, when it comes to knowing your story, you should have a good knowledge of what you want to say.
Communication is the goal. The kids should leave the environment knowing a story from the Bible and how that story impacts their life. The better you know that story, the clearer those biblical truths will be communicated. Too much hangs in the balance to tell a bad Bible story to kids.
Questions to Consider How to Tell an Effective Bible Story:
- Who is going to hear this story?
You probably already know that kids are going to hear this story. But which kids? How old are they? Are there multiple ages in the same room? Where are they from, or what are their families like? What do they experience in their everyday world?
The more storytellers know about your audience, the better you can prepare to communicate effectively.
- How are they different from me?
We tend make two assumptions when we tell Bible stories with kids:
We assume they are like us now.
We assume they are like how we used to be.
But they are not like us. They don’t think like us. They don’t have the same experiences we do. If we attach what we learn to what we know, kids will attach these stories to their brains differently than we will. And they are not how we used to be. Being an elementary-age child today is very different from when you were growing up. The world has changed rapidly in the past 25 years. Storytellers will connect more effectively with kids if they keep that in mind.
- How will they hear what I’m saying?
Remember, most of the kids in the room are concrete thinkers. That means they will attach the words you say to the most literal translation of those words. For example, you may ask, “Do you want to ask Jesus in your heart?” They respond with a deer-in-the-headlights expression and say, “No!” But, don’t necessarily be offended or worried. They might just be completely grossed out trying to figure out how Jesus would GET INSIDE THEM!
The words you use matter. And while you can’t control exactly how they will hear what you’re saying, you can anticipate the ideas that might trip them up. Just remember to attach abstract concepts to something familiar.
- What will they experience as they listen?
How does the story you’re going to tell engage them? Will they be moving around on the floor? Will they come up on stage? Are there props or stage pieces?
Knowing the details of the Bible story convention will help you stage the room accordingly. Get the room ready for them to have the best experience possible.
- Are there any potential distractions in this story that I can remove or use to my advantage?
A little practice goes a long way. Often the distractions can be eliminated with a practice. When you know what you’re doing and where you’re headed, you can use turn what you think will be distractions into the very thing that gets them engaged.
But there’s always a chance that something will go wrong. You need a plan for when things don’t go to plan. Think about what could go wrong and troubleshoot how you could recover if that happens.
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