What does Bible storytelling have to do with mission trips? Plenty! As long as there have been fire pits, there have been stories. From the very earliest history of man, people have been sitting together and enjoying food, fire and the storyteller. People love to share stories. Tall tales. Personal heroics. Stories of love. Stories of faith. And, speaking honestly, anyone who has ever gone on mission trips probably went hoping to come back with a few good stories to share.
People love stories. But even more so, they love a good storyteller. They want to be drawn into the story. They want to feel present in the tale, to feel the tension, to laugh deeply, to grieve honestly. This is what a good storyteller does.
The role of Bible storytelling
The storyteller. A good story. Often thought of as side notes to the serious job of spreading God’s word, surely sharing Christ’s love is more about explaining deep theological truth than it is about simple stories. But is this true? Was Jesus more of a seminary professor or storyteller?
A simple story. A parable. This is exactly how Jesus communicated throughout much of the Bible. Jesus was a master storyteller. He could hold the attention of thousands and leave them pondering the deeper point of his story. He often left his audience with a stone in their shoe (er… a pebble in their sandal) and a little bit of truth to mull over.
The truth is hard to swallow. That is why it is best taken one small bite at a time. Christ knew this intimately. He knew people needed time to process truth. They especially needed time if that truth was big, life-changing, worldview-shattering, soul-saving truth. This is why Christ often gave us the truth in digestible ways through parables.
Bible storytelling and human history
But Bible storytelling is more than that. It is more than just a palatable method. Since man first huddled around a fire, he has been sharing stories. Storytellers have carried on the legends of human history. Whether a flood that destroyed society or a Greek army laying siege to Troy, these tales passed down through the storyteller. Mankind was literally made to hear and tell stories. And no one knows this better than the all-powerful Creator who first breathed life into man.
God designed man to pass truth through storytelling. It should be no surprise then that this is still a highly effective way of communicating. Add to that the vast majority of people who have still not heard the Good News of the gospel come from oral societies. These are places where most information is still carried person to person through conversations and storytelling. This is good news.
The Parable of the Sower. The Prodigal Son. Creation. The Fall. The Flood. Abraham’s Faithful Sacrifice. All of these Bible stories speak volumes of truth. They speak God’s truth. God gave us these stories to communicate his love and hope to one another.
God’s children are called to be like Christ. Christ the storyteller. Perhaps then what is needed, in order to serve God, are more Bible storytellers.