Telling Stories from the Bible

One of the greatest tasks of a childrenís Sunday School teacher is telling stories from the Bible. This is a task that the teacher will engage in every week. Though many of the stories are familiar to the teacher, some of the children are hearing them for the first time. The teacher must keep the childrenís attention and stay true to the original text of the Bible. I offer the following tips on story telling for Bible teachers.

1. Read the passage several times to become familiar with it.

The idea here is not to memorize the story word for word, but to know the story well. Reading from several translations might even help you to get the flow of the story. When you tell the story, you donít have to quote it word for word from the Bible text. Tell the story using your own words and your own style.

2. Practice telling the story.

This can be accomplished in several ways. You can tell the story, as you plan to tell it to the children, to a friend. Readily accept any suggestions or advice the friend may have. Another method is to record yourself so you can listen to yourself to determine if there is anything that you want to change. This is also good practice so that the first time you tell your story is not to the children.

3. Donít read from the leaderís guide or a book.

If you feel like you need to read (following step 1 above should eliminate this need), read from the Bible. Eye contact with the children is very important. They become bored when you just read from a text. Children like animation, and you need to add some animation to your story telling. Reading short portion of text or quotes from the Bible is a good idea. This lets the children know that you did indeed get the story from the Bible.

I once had a group of fifth and sixth graders challenge me on Jesus saying a certain thing. Nothing short of me reading it directly from the Bible would convince them. Children will challenge you sometimes; so, be ready with the your Bible and the text from which you are teaching.

4. Practice using voice inflection and characterizations while telling stories.

As mentioned above, it is important to animate your story while you are telling in to a story. Your voice can accomplish much of this. Use an excited voice when things are getting exciting. Use a sad voice when things get sad. It is a good idea to use a different voice for each character in the story. This helps the children to quickly identify the character without you even telling them who is speaking.

5. Stay true to the text of the Bible — donít embellish too much.

Once again, I am not asking you to quote the story from the Bible word for word, but I am asking you to stay true to the context and story of the Bible. Most importantly, do not misquote anyone, especially God and Jesus. I have read the "suggested" story in some Sunday School material, and been amazed how they wrong they get the story. I have even seen Jesus misquoted in order to meet their curriculum. I encourage you to change your curriculum before you change a Bible story.

This list is by no means everything you need to know about telling Bible stories. I suggest you might want to pick up a book at your local library on storytelling. There you will find many more suggestions about being a good storyteller. I suggest you also practice, practice, and practice. Like most things in life, the more you do it, the better you get.

Contact us by e-mail.

The Christian Counter

© copyright 2003 E. E. Perry