Telling God’s stories from His Word is such a privilege! We long to see the kids become excited about the Bible and about Who God is, to see them open up their hearts for His love and His truth, to see them stand in awe of Jesus and His deep compassion for them – these things are among the most amazing things we experience in Children’s Ministry! It helps our kids to become deeply rooted in His love and in His Word. We take this very seriously, because it is the Word of God we are teaching.
Therefore we want to help you grow in your skills as a storyteller. Using Creative Teaching Methods is one thing; presenting it in an engaging way that will draw the children into the story so they are captivated by it, is another! We need to use Storytelling Techniques that will help us to bring the stories to life for the kids and for ourselves. The good news is that these techniques can be learned. Let’s look at different storytelling techniques.
We will look at several different storytelling techniques, and we will give you lots of demonstrations to show you what we are talking about. We are not here to show you “the perfect way” to tell the stories of the Bible, but rather to help you think about tools you can use so that you will bring the messages across clearly to the kids. Our goal is not to be the coolest storytellers or the best Children’s Ministry teachers – our goal is to reach the hearts of the kids, and so we are always looking for the best ways to do that.
Preparation is one of your key ingredients to successful storytelling and teaching. The question is: How do you do it? You could just read over your lesson a couple of times on Saturday evening – but then chances of you struggling to even know what you are supposed to say when you are with the kids on Sunday morning will be… let’s say about 100%. If you want to do the best you can, you must take preparation seriously.
One of the most important parts of preparing is that you take time to get excited about the story, and about the things God reveals through the story. It’s not just preparing your mind by filling it with the words you are going to say. You must do that too – you have to know what you will be saying. But it must come from your heart, and that is only possible if you have become excited about the story, if it has moved your heart and touched your life.
How do you do that? Here are some ideas for you to try. First of all, start with prayer. Pray with honesty and ask God to reveal His truth, His love, His compassion for you personally as you are diving into the story. This is so important! Prayer helps us to keep our focus right on Him, and helps us to keep our motives pure and clear.
Read the story in the Bible. At the beginning of your lesson there is a scripture reference. First just read through the story in the Bible. Then read it a second time – but slower this time. Use your imagination. Pause after each sentence. Close your eyes and try to imagine what it was really like for the real people when it really happened. Remember – this really did happen to real people. You’ll be able to get a sense of the bigger picture of the story as you do this. You will likely notice details you didn’t see the first time you read through it.
Read it a third time and ask yourself: What if it had been you? What if you were Joseph, stuck in the well? What if you heard your brothers hackle over the price they were going to accept for you? What if you had those dreams and knew in your heart that they were given by God? What if it were you who was thrown in jail while you had not done anything bad? What would it have been like for you? What would you have done?
Look at each sentence in the story. Each word is there for a reason – not a single one showed up accidentally. Each one has purpose. What is the purpose of these words and of these sentences? Why did God include these specific details? Think about it. Pray about it.
Then ask yourself: Are there things in this story that surprise me? What does this story tell me about Jesus or God and His character? What part of this story makes me excited about this story? What is the thing that touches my heart?
As you move on to the lesson script and as you prepare to tell the story, think about how you can tell the story in such a way, that it will bring across the beautiful discoveries you have made. But here is the trick: you cannot simply tell the kids! You cannot just say, “Joseph’s brothers were so surprised!” Find a way to show it. Show it in how you say the words, in your facial expression and with your body language. Even if you narrate those lines, for example “The brothers couldn’t believe their eyes”, let everything in how you communicate that assist you to bring those words across. “The brothers couldn’t believe their eyes.” Each sentence needs to be communicated intentionally. You can only do that if you first of all memorize your lines. If you don’t know your lines, you’re just going to be focussing on “what comes next” – “I think I know, I hope I know -please let me be ok.” If you’re stuck focussing on remembering the words, you cannot focus on the actual meaning of what you are saying, and you can’t focus on the way you deliver it to the kids. You won’t be able to bring across what is in your heart, the part that makes you so excited about this particular story and the amazing life-changing truth that you want the kids to see.
So once you have been touched by the story, you have looked at all the details and you know your story well, you can focus on the storytelling techniques: Step into the Story, Switching Roles and Step into the Narrator’s Role