Storytelling Videos

How to explain some of the techniques used in storytelling…?
I figured that it’s better to use videos! Here are a few.

Here’s a video that shows how important it is that we pay attention to how we say words when we tell a story:

Do you know the story about Bartimaeus? It’s in Luke 18:35-43. It’s one of the great stories included in our He Loves Me curriculum. Here is a video that introduces the story:

Our Joseph curriculum tells the great stories about his life, and helps children discover how they can live their lives for God as well. The story of Joseph’s life was full of drama, hardships, unexpected twists and turns. If you don’t know the story, it’s found in the Bible in Genesis 37, 39-50. Here’s a short video from one of the lessons.

Get some great storytelling ideas! Read more about storytelling, and watch more videos about how to step into the story, how to switch roles as you tell a story, and how to step into the narrator’s role.

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Barrier #5: I Don’t Understand!

We were asked to do Sunday School at a church one day, and I asked one of the girls in my small group her name.
“Grace,” she answered.
“That’s a beautiful name!” I responded. Knowing about the importance of the meaning of names in her culture, I asked her, “Do you know what it means?”
“Yes,” she said, and she proceeded to tell me something that was completely off.
I hesitated. “That’s not quite right,” I said. “Does anyone else know what ‘grace’ means?”
Several children attempted to answer, but none of them knew what ‘grace’ meant. It was a word they had heard many times in church, but they didn’t know what it meant.

Grace. Mercy. Repentance. Sin. Salvation. All these words are often used in churches, but I wonder how many children have an accurate understanding of what words like these mean. Add to that the fact that young children take things very literally.

“You must be washed by the blood of Jesus!”
“Really? Eeewww. I don’t want to do that!”

We must be careful in how we communicate with our children. Often times kids won’t ask what a word means, especially if they have been coming to church many years, have heard the words many times, and sense that they should somehow have caught on to the meaning of the words long ago. Not understanding “christianese” can be a barrier for the kids in our Children’s Ministry programs.

Strategy 10: Value Child Appropriate Language
Pay attention to words and expressions, and casually explain the meaning to the kids as you teach. Often, when I talk about sin, I just insert a short and clear description: “Sin separates us from God. God does not like sin – all the bad things we do and say and think.” By doing this repeatedly without putting much emphasis on the fact that “I am teaching you is a definition now”, kids will pick up on the meaning of these words, and that in turn will help them understand important concepts that are key to our faith.

What else can we do to conquer this barrier – the 5th barrier we have looked at so far?

Age Groups 
This barrier also presents itself when parents insist on having a child join a group that they are too young for. I have dealt with this issue many times, and tell parents that their child should really attend the class that is right for their age as they will be able to understand what is happening there. Sometimes parents are very persistent, but I choose to be more persistent yet. Children who do not understand what is happening in class will also become disruptive, taking away from the children who are able to understand what is being taught. So I choose to stand up for these other kids, and insist that children should be in their age-appropriate classes.

Mother Tongue
Some churches also face language barriers in terms of dealing with different languages. The church may be an English speaking church in a place where most people speak another language. Sometimes parents want their children to learn English, and send their kids to Sunday School for that reason. Whenever I sensed that this was the case in the church I used to be at, I gently told the parents that Sunday School is not the place to learn a new language, but it is a place to learn about God. And since we want the message of God’s Word to reach our hearts, it is best to learn in the language that will most easily reach our hearts – our mother tongue. Therefore children should attend a class in their own language if possible. If more than one language is spoken in a church or the area, consider having small groups in these different languages. For example, you may have a group for Spanish 6-8-year-olds and a group for English 6-8-year-olds. In this way, when they interact with the story and talk about the application, they can do so freely as they can do it in their own language.

Coming Soon – Barrier #6: I am SO Smart!

Read the articles in this series:
From Barriers to Values
Barrier #1: No Relationship
Barrier #2: Church is Boring
Strategy 3: Value Fun
Strategy 4: Value Creativity
Strategy 5: Value Learning Styles
Strategy 6: Value the Uniqueness of Childhood
Barrier #3: Poor Presentation
Strategy 8: Value Storytelling Techniques
Barrier #4: It’s Just a Bunch of History

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Barrier #4: It’s Just a Bunch of History

Our youth group leader once asked us this question: If someone were to observe you live your life, but he would never actually talk to you, would he be able to tell that you are a Christian? Frankly, this question scared me. I thought, “Oh, no! What if this person couldn’t? How is a person supposed to be able to tell that I am a Christian through the way I live anyway?” I started to look for answers by listening carefully to pastors on Sunday mornings. For years I sat in church on Sunday mornings, waiting for them to tell me what I should DO with the things they preached. But sadly, they never did. They preached wonderful sermons, and I agreed with most of the theological things they talked about, but then, as they neared the end of the sermon, and I was waiting for them to tell me how to apply this to my life, the sermon came to an end. They never did tell me. I was not able to find an answer in church.

I wanted to know how I should live my life as a Christian. I wanted to know what it should look like on Monday at 6:23 AM and on Thursday at 11:35 AM and on Friday at 8:56 PM. You see, I knew most of the Bible stories. I had heard them in Sunday School, at the Christian schools I had attended, and at home every evening after supper as we read the Bible together. But somehow, hearing the stories and understanding how to apply them to my life were two different things, and they were disconnected. No one taught me how and therefore, when I was 26 years old, I still didn’t know how to do that. For the most part, the stories in the Bible were stories, and that was it. They were historical accounts of things that happened to people a long time ago. But I did not know how to move on to the next level.

So if I, as a 26-year-old, having gone to church all my life, could not figure it out, how do we expect children to know how to do it? The answer is that they won’t know, unless we teach them how to do it. If we don’t, we leave a major barrier in place. This is Barrier #4: The Bible is Just a Bunch of History, and we must implement a value to conquer the barrier.

Strategy #9: Value Relevance, Practical Application

Years after the challenge that was given by our youth leader, God intervened in our lives. I read books written by Floyd McClung and Loren Cunningham and other authors from YWAM. Praise God, those books did provide the answer to my question. God totally changed our lives around during that season. We also started to use the FLIPT curriculum from Promiseland (Willow Creek) in Children’s Ministry in our church in Canada. Each and every single lesson had a clear, practical application for the lives of the children. Each week the kids learned how to apply a story from the Bible to their lives. I was super excited. I had been struggling with this for years, and here these kids were, in church, learning how to do this, every single week! I saw this value in action, and I strongly believe that this is a vital strategy as we reach out to our kids.

I wholeheartedly believe that we must give our children clear, relevant, practical examples to show them how the stories connect with their lives. The more specific our examples are, the easier it is for the kids to understand what we mean. Instead of saying “When someone is mean to you, you should show kindness”, make it specific and say, “When your sister says, ‘Leave me alone, you little brat!’ and you feel like saying something mean back to her, don’t give in to the temptation. Be kind instead.”

Let me give some examples from our Joseph – Living for God lessons to show what I mean. In our lessons we call it “The Connection”, as it connects the story to the lives of the kids.

Joseph is Tempted – Genesis 39. The connection: Joseph said ‘no’ to temptation, and so can we. What kinds of temptations do the children in your group face? Here are some possible questions:

You are upset with your brother because he read a secret note you had in your notebook and he told his friends about it. You feel like telling your friends something embarrassing about your brother to get even with him. What can you do to say ‘no’ to temptation?

You broke you sister’s shoelace when you borrowed her shoes without asking. No one knows you did it, and you put them back where you found them. A little later your sister asks if you know how her shoelaces broke. What do you do?

Here is another example from Joseph in Prison – Genesis 39 and 40. The connection: Joseph served God no matter where he was, and we can serve God too. The children will think about situations in their lives in which they can serve God and serve others. Kids can serve God at home, at school and in their neighbourhood. Here are some possible questions:

Your mother is sick. Name three things you can do to help.

What could you do to help your teacher?

You walk to school with your younger sister. She forgot her notebook at home and she needs to bring it to school. What could you do to help her?

In the He Loves Me curriculum, there is the story of the Good Samaritan. During this lesson the kids think about ways in which they can show compassion to others. The story about Bartimaeus will help the children to think about what it looks like to call out to God and how God answers our prayers. After hearing the story about Jesus feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, they think about what it means to surrender everything to Jesus, and how He takes care of us when we use what He has given us.

Connecting the stories to our lives is of huge importance for the growth of our faith and our relationship with God and others. No matter what story we tell or what lesson we teach, we should always show the kids how the story is relevant to them and how they can live out their faith in practical ways. Then they will see that the Bible is so much more than just a history book!

Read about the next Barrier: – Barrier #5: I Don’t Understand!

Read related posts:

From Barriers to Values

Barrier #1: No Relationship

Barrier #2: Church is Boring

Strategy #3: Value Fun

Strategy #4: Value Creativity

Strategy #5: Value Learning Styles

Strategy #6: Value the Uniqueness of Childhood

Barrier #3: Poor Presentation

Strategy #8: Value Storytelling Techniques

Barrier #5: I Don’t Understand!

 

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Strategy 8: Value Storytelling Techniques

A room full of children. Eyes are on the teacher. No one makes a sound. The kids are not even aware of the fact that they are in the room. Hearts are fully engaged. Their imagination has transported them into the story. The story captivates them. They may have heard the story before, perhaps even many times, but this time the story is fresh and new once again.

Telling a story. When I started to realize how much I enjoyed telling stories from the Bible, I didn’t really want to learn about storytelling techniques, because I was worried that it would make storytelling mechanical and take away from the experience of engaging with the beauty of the story. I figured that beauty should not be reduced to a bunch of techniques, because it will come out damaged and harmed and it will never be as beautiful. But as I discovered storytelling techniques and tested them, I realized that I was wrong. Storytelling techniques can greatly improve the delivery of the story, do greater justice to it and help the listeners engage at a deeper level. The beauty of the story will actually shine through in a more powerful way.

So what are storytelling techniques? There are a bunch of interconnected things we can focus on as we figure out how we want to tell the story in a powerful way. Storytelling techniques are skills we can work on and improve and take to a higher level. Storytelling techniques help us conquer the Barrier of a Poor Presentation. This blog does not allow me to elaborate on them, so I have created some separate pages with training videos.

training

I’ve done storytelling workshops in different places, and honestly, of all the training sessions in Children’s Ministry that I have done, these are the ones that I enjoy the most. My favorite part is when, after struggling to make it clear, suddenly “the light goes on” and the faces of the participants suddenly shine with joy as they discover the beauty and power of the story! Such joy it brings – to them and to me!!

Check out these pages:
Storytelling
Step into the Story
Switching Roles
Step into the Narrator’s Role

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