Once upon a time, your storyteller schedule for the month was complete. You reached your personal milestones of having every slot filled AND every storyteller confirmed with a backup in place should something come up last minute. But then you sit back, put your feet up on your desk, sigh and wonder…
Now what can I do to take my storytellers to the next level?
Dreams aside, the reality is that evaluating volunteer storytellers can feel subjective based on whether or not you had a good or grainy cup of coffee that morning. But the truth is, when it comes to evaluations, the goal is to make the subjective objective.
By creating concrete milestones for your storytellers, both they and you can track their journey toward telling better Bible stories.
Here are a few milestones that will let your storytellers know they’re growing their skills. And you will feel confident that you are stewarding your team well by developing your Bible storytellers from willing to winning:
Get on stage without notes
Preparation alone is not one of the milestones. All of your storytellers should come having a good working knowledge of their script and at most a note card that can prompt them to the main outline of the Bible story. But when the card becomes filled with the tiniest handwriting fitting every last word of the script onto the card, we might have a problem.
Don’t let the card become a crutch. When it does, the storyteller is focused more on getting the lines right than being focused on connecting the story with the kids. The card is a distraction, and the kids will realize that the storyteller is not prepared. In those moments, the kids may get restless and check out.
With that in mind, work towards having all of your storytellers come so prepared that they can get on stage and present the Bible story without any notes.
It might take a three to five times for storytellers to get the hang of this, but this should definitely be one of the milestones you’re all working towards. Also, when a storyteller never reaches this goal, this is an indication they’re the wrong fit for this role. But they may be perfect for another role within your children’s ministry. Help them figure out what that is.
To help your storytellers get off script quickly, check out this post on memorization tips.
Work with props
Doing two things at once can be difficult. Presenting a memorized script and working with props (or other Bible story materials) while standing in front of a bunch of kids hanging on your every word is a skill that takes practice.
Create time within your morning schedule for your storytellers to have a chance to rehearse with the props before the kids arrive. Run through any tech cues like sound effects and computer graphics. Pre-select any volunteers you might need to bring on stage and prep them to know what’s expected of them. This rehearsal time will give your storytellers a chance to build their confidence before hitting the stage in front of a room full of kids.
Celebrate these milestones when your storytellers effortlessly work with props, kids on stage, or whatever else the story might throw at them.
Use multiple storytelling skills
As your storytellers get comfortable on stage, challenge them to add some new techniques such as vocal dynamics, script pacing, and stage movement to enhance the storytelling experience for the kids. Whenever you see them take a skill to the next level, celebrate and let them know how well they’re doing.
If you’re need some thoughts for how to evaluate this, I’ve created a checklist here.
A final milestone is how your storytellers breathe life into the script by how they portray Bible characters. This doesn’t mean they get a wardrobe assistant, dressing room and makeup artist prepping them for every role. Rather, how a storyteller stands, gestures, and modulates their voice can make characters come alive for the kids. This is definitely a higher-level storytelling skill that only some of your storytellers might achieve, and that’s ok. But when you see it in action, be sure to call attention to it and celebrate your storytellers for developing their craft.
As your storytellers add skills and move through the milestones, realize that there will be times when storytellers will have an off day. We all have them. Offer grace, encouraging feedback, and another chance to share a Bible story.
TEAM COACHING OPPORTUNITIES:
You may be thinking that you could use some coaching for yourself or your staff or team of volunteer storytellers to help reach these milestones and take their skills to the next level. I have a few coaching opportunities available to help you build your team and develop their skills. You can check them out here. I’d love the chance to work with you and your team to help engage kids with the Greatest Story Ever Told.