Monday, March 26, 2012

Tell Me a Bible Story

Unexpectedly, this past weekend, I learned a new way to get anyone excited about getting into God's Word!

At a ladies' seminar I attended this weekend, the announced topic was "Simplify Your Life." Since I had agreed to be a table leader several months before I knew the topic, I went, even though I didn't really think wanted to hear about how to declutter my closet. (Not that I don't need that, but that's another topic; and that's not what she talked about anyway.)

What I found very interesting was the "Bible Stories" that the speaker told as examples, using the stories of women in the book of Luke. 

She said she wouldn't add anything to the stories, but she would tell them rather than read them. I checked the passage on one story. I discovered that she made no artistic embellishments, and in places, even used almost the exact words in my translation. But since she was telling the story, we listened closely. 

At the end of the story, she said there were five questions we needed to answer:

  1. What do I like about this story?
  2. What do I not like about this story?
  3. What do I learn about people from this story?
  4. What do I learn about God in this story?
  5. What can I apply to my life from this story?
As I thought about these questions I realized how great they are for teaching our kids or others to read and understand the Bible for themselves!

I've always used the questions:
  • What does it say? (Observation)
  • What does it mean? (Interpretation)
  • What does it mean to me? (Application)
But those questions can be a little vague, especially for people who are just learning how to study the Bible. These new questions, while they wouldn't work for every passage, help people because they are more specific

The first two are observation questions, but they give the reader something specific to look for. While looking for what he likes and doesn't like, he will pay close attention to the story. 

The next two questions are interpretation questions, again with specific lessons to look for. 

Finally, there is an application question, something the reader can take with him through the day, something to actually do or change in his life.

How great would it be to do that with our kids? Stories fit every age. Jesus did much of His teaching to adults through stories, so they will work well with our children whatever their age. We can decide if we should tell the story, read the story, or assign one of them to be the storyteller.Then we answer the questions, discussion style--each one who wants can have a say. Even young children will soon start to be attentive so they can tell you what they liked and didn't like.

You can let them not like the fact that Mary didn't help Martha or that Martha tattled or that Jesus scolded Martha. But help them to also see that Mary was able to settle down and listen to something important, even though she probably knew her sister wanted her help. And they can realize that the Lord's rebuke was gentle. Just make sure that what they like and don't like is truly there--not things they add or conjecture.

With the lessons they learn about people and God, guide them with questions to lessons that are in keeping with the rest of scripture. And the same goes for how they want to apply it to themselves. The lesson of Mary and Martha is not that they can avoid setting the table if they are reading their Bibles!

photo credits RK Scott

Let's Have Some Fun!
Have you ever done April Fool's jokes on people that involve a mealtime? I have! I'll tell you my stories if you'll tell me yours! Send me a quick note here with your story and I'll print it at the end of the week.


  1. I was intrigued by this strategy and really enjoyed it. I asked Kay where she learned it. She said that she took a whole course on storytelling by e3 ministries trainers. So I've researched a bit more and found some more information:

    1. Thanks, Sarah, this is helpful. I really appreciated this and am asking the questions now in my own quiet times of the Bible stories I read.



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