BIBLE STORYING TO EVANGELIZE, PLANT CHURCHES AND TRAIN LEADERS
What is Bible Storying (Chronological Bible Storying)?
Bible Storying is teaching God’s Word so as to preserve the stories intact as stories which
carry the necessary teachings leading to salvation, New Testament Church, discipling, and leader
training. Additional teaching is supplied as needed by referring to the Bible stories in
explanation, dialog, and other teaching activities as needed and as appropriate for the listeners.
It is also called Chronological Bible Storying though not all Bible Storying may be
chronologically arranged. The chronological arrangement has proven to be the best for helping
many oral communicators to see the emerging larger story of God’s plan of redemption with
each individual story contributing to it. Chronologically arranged stories provide for continuing
themes and characters to run through several stories thus linking them into larger story. Also it
makes more difficult for any one story to be misinterpreted by listeners as each story relates to
the whole story.
Other forms of Bible Storying may consist of thematically grouped stories such as Jesus’
casting out evil spirits, Jesus’ healing the sick and lame, and Jesus helping women, etc. It may
also be the use of a single story or a story cluster (small group of several stories) that might be
used in some ministry event or other witnessing opportunity.
Bible Storying might focus on the story(ies) of one Bible character such as Abraham, Moses,
David, Peter or Paul. In addition the stories might begin with the Genesis story of Creation and
continue through the Resurrection or even begin with the Birth of Jesus and continue through the
Resurrection and Ascension. There are good reasons for each of these arrangements along with
certain advantages and disadvantages.
Beginning with Creation in Genesis helps to establish the sovereignty of God over all peoples
and their accountability to Him. It begins the story of the broken relationship due to sin, of
God’s judgment and punishment of sinner, of God’s promise of a Redeemer, the temporary
provision for sin in the substitute sacrifice, the continued failure of mankind to fall into sin and
save themselves from God’s wrath, and finally the prophecies of a Redeemer fulfilled in the
story of Jesus. The Old Testament stories prepare one to receive and understand the story of
Jesus as Savior.
For many who already have some knowledge of Jesus and some understanding about God and
sin it may be sufficient to begin with the story of Jesus to remind them that he is the Promised
One sent from God who had authority to forgive sin and who suffered and died as a Substitute
for our sin. It is still good to go back and review the Old Testament stories as a background for
How many Bible stories should I plan to tell?
There are many stories in the Bible, in fact, far more than you will likely need. Most people
do not need to hear all the stories in the Bible in order to come to faith in Christ, or to form a
New Testament Church, be discipled, or to become a trained leader. To make the teaching easier
and to keep a sharper focus on what must be done first, then next, and so on, a strategy has been
suggested that organizes the Bible stories into groups of stories that are related or that build upon
one another to help reach each objective whether evangelism, planting a church, discipling or
training. These groups of stories we have named Tracks. So there is an Evangelism Track, a
Church Planting Track, a Discipling Track, and a Leadership Track. There are some other tracks
we might use to review the key Bible stories for new believers—Review Track, and a track that
looks at the resurrection of the dead, the return of Jesus, and the coming judgment which is
called the End Times Track. These names are related to what we expect to happen during and
the end of each set (track) of Bible story lessons.
So how many stories are needed for each track? There are two key ingredients to determine
how many Bible stories are needed. First, we must have some idea of what a person must know
and come to understand and believe to reach each objective. What must a person know of the
Bible story in order to come to faith in Christ? What must a person or persons know and believe
in order to form a New Testament Church? What should a leader know and believe in order to
be a competent and knowledgeable Christian church leader? We call these Basic Bible Truths.
So there is a list of basic beliefs needed for each track of Bible stories. For the Evangelism
Track we call these Basic Bible Truths Leading to Salvation. There is a suggested or model list
of some twelve truths which generally must be taught and understood.
Each list of Basic Bible Truths can be taught through selecting appropriate Bible stories and
teaching from them. But some of the truths may be more difficult for listeners to accept,
understand, or act upon because of some beliefs they already have. These beliefs which each
person has that affect their attitudes and actions we call their worldview. This worldview is how
they understand the visible world and the unseen world and believe how they operate. These
worldviews are also shared among peers, families, communities and among those who follow
certain religious practices. For instance, if a person believes that his people have their own gods
that they venerate and pray to for their needs, they will have difficulty accepting the Christian
teaching of only one God who alone is sovereign and that all people are accountable to Him. Or
they may have their own beliefs about what to do whenever they so something that is considered
bad or wrong, their own way of how to make it right or to do penance. Both of these beliefs will
influence what people believe about the teachings in the Bible stories. If the beliefs are strongly
held then it may take several Bible stories to dislodge the beliefs or to lead the people on to a
higher and true belief based on God’s Word. So the worldview of a people will influence both
the choice of Bible stories and how many stories with a particular truth or theme are needed.
To recap—there are two influences which must be considered when choosing Bible stories to
tell. Which stories carry the Basic Bible Truths that are needed to bring the listeners to a
conviction and proper belief, and which Worldview Issues must be considered in order to choose
the most appropriate Bible stories and how many Bible stories are needed which carry the truths
to overcome any worldview barriers and lead listeners to understand what they must know and
There is a list of some things to explore to help the storyer understand the worldview of his
listeners. Also a list of Basic Bible Truths Leading to Salvation is given along with a list of
suggested Bible stories that carries or teaches those basic truths. We call this a Core Bible Story
List—this just means it is a list that contains the core or central truths needed. The list may be
expanded and even substitutions in stories made if a people’s worldview requires it. The
worldview issues we break into two groups, those which are positive are called bridges (to the
Gospel), and those which are negative are called barriers (to the Gospel).
Choosing Bible Stories for each Track.
So to begin we make a list of the truths we need to teach to reach each objective, and the
worldview issues which may affect how our listeners receive, understand, and act upon what we
are teaching. This list will guide us in selecting stories. We have a suggested guideline that says
if a particular Bible truth is very difficult for listeners or if they have significant worldview
barriers that are stumbling blocks to accepting, understanding and acting, then we may choose
more stories. For very difficult truths we might choose five stories that teach that truth. For
those which are perhaps new thoughts but not really difficult we might choose three stories. And
for truths which the listeners are in agreement with already, or which there is little resistance to
accepting, then only one story may be enough. Now you have a formula which can help you
decide how many stories are needed. Once you know what Bible truths must be taught and what
worldview issues must be confronted you can judge how many stories will be needed to
adequately teach each truth or confront each worldview issue. Your list can always be revised
during your teaching. Remember these are just guidelines to help you get started. Because you
know your people best, you will naturally select the best stories to use and also be aware when
additional stories are needed to help them to understand and accept the Bible message.
Crafting Bible stories for telling.
Most Bible stories may be told just as they are found in the Bible. Sometimes it is helpful to
edit a story to simplify it a bit, to shorten it if a very long one, or to add additional words or
comments to help listeners understand the story while it is being told. There are several
classifications of crafted Bible story if needed in order to make the stories easier to tell or more
understandable by listeners. The simplest crafting is just that of keeping the original Bible words
but being sure that each person speaking in a story is identified by giving their name instead of
referring to them by a pronoun. (Ex: Jesus said to Peter…instead of Jesus said to him…) Other
crafting might be simplifying things like numbers in stories (in the Flood story there are many
numbers given, some of which can changed or dropped: the dimensions of the ark, change 150
days to “a long time” or many months, etc.) simplifying the number of proper names used in a
story, especially if they are not really needed (ex: In many of the stories of David it may be
enough to mention the enemies of Israel instead of the Philistines, etc.).
Another form of crafted story is the paraphrased story in which the Bible story is retold in a
summarized, simplified manner, perhaps in the speaker’s own words, while retaining the basic
storyline and not making any major changes in what the story tells or teaches.
There are two other forms of crafted stories which may be needed. One is a combined,
composite or extended story in which two or more stories may be combined into one longer story
to give a stronger story that is more complete. An example might be the three following stories
joined into one longer story: Jesus in the home of Mary and Martha (and Lazarus) (Luke 10),
Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11), Mary anointing Jesus in Bethany (John 12).
Another example could be use of two or more parables that are related in some way: The Lost
Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son.
The last crafted story is one that is compiled or assembled from pieces which are in the Bible
but not organized as a story in one location. The most typical is that of the Creation of the Spirit
World which uses many references including those about Satan and angels to make a story about
how God created the angels and how Satan rebelled against God and led some of the angels to
disobey who became the evil spirits mentioned in the Gospels. Not everyone is comfortable
putting together a story like this, but it is possible and all the pieces are there.
Teaching the Bible Stories.
After the Bible stories have been selected and prepared for telling it is time to incorporate
them into a storying lesson which will help listeners to understand the Bible story and to consider
what it is saying to them. There are three basic parts to a storying lesson: The pre-story dialog,
the Bible story itself, and the post-story dialog.
The pre-story dialog serves to provide a review of earlier stories and their lessons, to prepare
the listeners for the new story, and to serve as a bridge to link the new story to previous stories.
Some Bible storyers like to use review questions related to earlier stories. Some like to ask
questions which will stir up the listeners’ thinking to prepare their hearts. Some like to give a
background to the new story and give a listening task to help explore the story.
The Bible story may or may not be preceded by a reading of a portion of the story from the
Bible. One reason for reading part of the story from the Bible is to signal that this is where the
story is coming from. Then the story is told. Why not just read all the story? You can, but if the
story is very long, overly complicated, or has things in it which could be simplified as mentioned
above, then it is best to tell the story as it has been crafted. For oral communicators they will
receive the story and remember it just as it is told. Among literates it is possible for the group to
read the story. But telling the story aloud allows everyone to participate in the story at the same
time and makes the Bible story more memorable.
The post-story dialog is the teaching time following the story. It may consist of a time to
review the story by having someone to retell it, to go over the facts in the story or test for
comprehension of listeners, to lead listeners to internalize the story or vicariously enter the story
by talking about and identifying with characters, and finally to discuss how the story might be
applied to their lives—what will they take away from the story or what is God saying to them?
There is a central theme or truth that is focused on in each storying session though the story
itself may carry many themes or truths. The Flood story has many themes: God’s omniscience,
God’s wrath because of sin, God’s grace toward Noah, Noah’s obedience, God’s provision for
Noah’s salvation, God’s judgment and punishment of the wicked, thanksgiving after the flood,
and God’s promise to Noah. Initially the theme of God’s judgment upon a sinful world is the
main theme with the theme of God’s grace in providing salvation and Noah’s obedience being
Closure or invitation at end of Evangelism Track.
After the initial set of salvation stories are told and taught then it is time to allow for,
encourage, and receive response to the Gospel leading to salvation. Some like to give a simple
invitation to respond to Jesus, to confess their sin and place faith in Jesus as Savior. Others like
to use a familiar or appropriate witness presentation like the Gospel Bridge to bring closure.
This is the climax of the Evangelism Track. If few respond, it may be necessary to review the
stories of Jesus again in case they did not understand the first time. For some it may be
necessary to go back and review the Old Testament stories about sin, God’s judgment and
punishment of sinners, and the promise of a Substitute Sacrifice in case the teaching of these
stories was not properly understood. It is very important to get as many commitments to Christ
as possible before proceeding to plant a church with people who are not yet believers.
It may be that some of the listeners may be ready to respond before the last stories are
reached. If so, take them aside privately, examine them, review the Gospel, and lead them to
faith in Christ. But continue to work with the larger group who are not yet ready to make this
Review or Affirmation Track.
It is possible at this time to go back and review the key Old Testament and New Testament
stories as a discipling time for new believers who now can see how these Old Testament stories
pointed to Jesus as Savior. It is also a second opportunity for any who are slow responders to
hear again the key stories leading to salvation. It is generally not necessary to deal with
worldview issues at this time, only the stories that are key stories leading to salvation.
Church Planting Track.
These are the stories and lessons drawn principally from Acts 1-12 that tell of the nature and
activities of the New Testament Church and its leaders and the work of the Holy Spirit. Some of
the needed stories in support of worship, communion and baptism are also found in the Old
Testament, the Gospels, and some of the Epistles like 1 Corinthians.
Just as preparing for the Evangelism Track it is good to go over the truths that listeners need
to understand in order to organize a New Testament Church. There are more worldview issues
which may stem from their previous religious practices or culture which may need confronting at
End Times Track.
These are the stories needed to bring closure to the Bible story, a reminder of the coming
return of Jesus to receive the believers and to judge unbelievers, the resurrection, the final defeat
and punishment of Satan and the evil spirits, and the blessed estate of the believers. Letters to
the seven churches are a warning about growing cold or falling away.
These are stories which also generally follow the chronological timeline that cover the lives
and characteristics of good leaders and God’s rejection of bad leaders. There are many stories
that can be used which deal with certain general characteristics of leaders and worldview issues
peculiar to a people group.
Providing an Oral Bible.
Going through the Bible with a selected set of stories that cover the characteristics of God and
those of man, how God related to the Israelites and dealt with them when they sinned, the
promises of God pointing to a Redeemer, the temporary provision for sin in the sacrifices, the
story of Jesus as the Promised One come from God to suffer for man’s sin, the teachings for
discipling new believers and the coming judgment all add up to a panorama of the Bible story. If
these stories are told and taught to listeners who are then able to remember them and retell them
to others, they have what is in essence an “Oral Bible”.
For those lacking Scriptures in their own language, who are nonliterate, or who simply prefer
oral communication for learning, an Oral Bible is the answer. We sometimes call this a “shadow
strategy” in that it shadows the primary strategies of evangelizing and planting a church and
training leaders to continue the ministry. Once the stories are learned they can be remembered
and recalled just as a literate person would go to the Bible to read a passage. Memory verses that
accompany the stories are also helpful to include in an Oral Bible.
Special forms of Bible Storying.
One special form of Bible Storying is called Fast-Tracking the Gospel. It is the telling of an
extended narrative of the story from Creation to the Ascension of Christ without stopping to
discuss any one story. All the stories are linked together into one continuing narrative by
carefully bridging or linking from story to story to maintain the continuity and flow. The same
guidelines apply in selecting the stories and anticipating the worldview issues to that the
presentation is coherent and addresses the typical barriers to the Gospel while supplying the
truths primarily leading to salvation.
A second special form is that of using stories at any ministry opportunity. We use the term
Point of Ministry Storying as the stories are chosen and prepared to be used as single stories or a
group of stories to be told whenever the ministry opportunity arises. Typical uses would be
before praying for someone in a home when one (or more) of the stories of Jesus is told to lift
him up before the listeners, or during some ministry such as eyeglass or dentistry clinics, water
projects, or any other time when people are gathered while a ministry is performed among them.
What is required to be a Bible storyer?
You will need to know your Bible stories. You will want to begin by reading the Bible story
by story and taking time to examine each story to see what it is saying, what are the truths or
themes found in the story, how could that story be told to others so they would understand too?
You will need to prepare Bible stories related to the teaching objectives which contain the
necessary Bible truths. And you will need to familiarize yourself with any worldview issues
which affect how the Bible stories are received, understood, and acted upon.
Find a group of people, get a commitment to meet, and begin the stories. You will make
some mistakes along the way but will also learn how to share God’s Word in this very interesting
and understandable manner. Be prepared to give whatever time is needed though the time frame
for teaching the Evangelism Track should be synchronized with the people’s lives and any major
holidays or disruptions in the teaching schedule. Trust the power of the Bible and simply be the
channel that lets it flow to the listeners so the Holy Spirit can change their hearts.
J. O. Terry
Basic Bible Truths Leading To Salvation
1. God is one God, Sovereign, Creating, Present and Acting in history.
2. God is all powerful, all knowing, the source of all grace and provision for all a person's
3. God communicates with people by His Word. He is faithful to his Word.
4. God loves all people and wants fellowship with them.
5. God is holy (separate from His creation), righteous in all He says and does, hating sin.
6. God’s righteous nature demands that all sin be punished by death that is eternal punishment
(separation from God).
7. People are accountable to God for all they say and do, and are held accountable for obeying
all that God asks people to do or not do.
8. All people are sinners by inherited nature (birth) and by freewill choice, and are separated
from God by their sin.
9. People can do nothing to save themselves from God's judgment and ultimate punishment for
10. One can approach (have fellowship with) God only through the means God has provided
through a perfect (sinless and acceptable) substitute sacrifice (Promised Anointed One who
suffered and died in our place).
11. Jesus the Son of God (the Promised Anointed One come from God) is the only perfect
sacrifice for sin offered once and for all people for all time.
12. Salvation for all people involves turning (repenting) from one’s sin, seeking God’s mercy in
forgiveness of sin and trusting through faith God's provision for salvation by believing on
Jesus as the only Savior from eternal punishment for sin.
CORE STORY LIST—Revised & Expanded
1. The Bible—God’s Holy Word, what is it and how it came to us.
2. In the Beginning was God—introduction to God and His Characteristics
3. God created the Spirit World and rules over it—Sovereignty of God.
4. God created the world and all that is in it—Sovereignty of God.
5. God created man and woman in His image—Sovereignty and grace of God.
6. Sin of Adam and Eve—Disobedience leads to a God’s judgment, a broken relationship, a promise of
one to crush the tempter and God’s grace to provide better covering for sin .
7. God judged a sinful world, no one could escape the judgment except Noah’s family—he obeyed all
that God commanded him to do.
8. God’s call and promises to Abraham—his descendant would bless all peoples.
9. God is faithful to provide the substitute sacrifice—Isaac’s story.
10. The Passover—Those who obeyed God were saved from destruction by the sign of blood.
11. God gave His holy Law—The Commandments to define sin (and lead man to seek God’s mercy.)
12. The Sacrifice System—Shedding of innocent sacrificial blood to cover sin and as a reminder that sin
is costly. Obedience to God’s command brings forgiveness. The holiness of God and the Most Holy
Place separated from the eyes and presence of man.
13. The Prophets’ Message I—Unless people repent and turn from their sin they will suffer—Elijah and
drought/Mt. Carmel sacrifice; Jonah and Nineveh.
14. The Prophets’ message II—The promise of an Anointed One who would suffer for our sin and
redeem us. (Isa 7:14, Mic 5:2; Isa 9:6-7; Isa 53; Zec 11:12-13; 12:10; Psa 22; 69)
15. Birth of Jesus according to prophecy—Testimonies of angels, Wise Men, Simeon and Anna.
16. Baptism of Jesus & Testing by Satan—Testimony of the Spirit’s presence, the Father’s words,
“This is my Son”, and John the prophet’s words, “Behold the Lamb of God”. He was tested in all
ways yet was without sin (Heb 4:15).
17. Jesus and Nicodemus—You must be born again of the Spirit to see the kingdom of God.
18. Jesus gives the Living Water of salvation—Samaritan Woman at Well.
19. Jesus has the authority to forgive sin and heal—Paralyzed Man and Four Friends or Woman who
anointed feet of Jesus.
20. Jesus is Lord of Nature—Calming the Storm, Feeding the Multitudes (Jesus is the bread that came
from heaven and satisfies spiritual hunger.).
21. Jesus has authority over the Spirit World—Gadarene Demoniac, man in synagogue, women
bound by Satan.
22. Jesus is the resurrection and the life—Raising of Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter or Widow’s son.
23. Prodigal Son—God the Father forgives those who sin against him, but repent and return to Him.
24. You must believe the testimony of Moses and the Prophets in this life—Abraham, Lazarus and
the Rich Man. Warning of danger of unbelief and certain punishment. The refused Wedding
Banquet Invitation. The Wedding Guest who was not clothed in wedding garments.(Mat 22:2-14)
25. Jesus warned his followers what would happen to him in fulfillment of prophecy—betrayal, arrest,
trial, and sentenced to death. (Mrk 8:31-33; 9:31-32; 10:32-34; Luk 20:16)
26. Who is Jesus?—Testimony of Peter, the people—Jesus is a prophet God has sent to help His people,
recap of testimonies of angels, Wise Men, John the Baptist, and even evil spirits.
27. The Last Supper—This is my body and blood of the New Covenant shed for the remission of sins. I
am the way, the life and the truth, no man comes to the Father but by me. Jesus is the Good
Shepherd, no one enters in except by the Shepherd who guards his sheep.
28. The crucifixion, decisions for and against Jesus, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”, “It is
finished.” Prophecies fulfilled. The torn curtain in the temple.
29. The resurrection stories, Jesus appearances to believers and his disciples. Testimony of angels.
30. Jesus returned to the Father and took his place at the right hand of God to make intercession before
the Father for believers. (The True High Priest--Heb 8-9, An Advocate before the Father—Rom
8:24; Heb 7:34) Testimony of the angels about Jesus’ return.
31. Jesus will return to receive his own and to defeat Satan and his demons.
32. The judgment of unbelievers whose names were not written in the Lamb’s Book of life.
33. The blessed state of believers in the presence of the Lamb of God in the new heaven and earth.
OBTAINING WORLDVIEW INFORMATION FOR USE IN BIBLE STORYING
Following is a short outline suggesting some areas to explore which may help to discover worldview
issues and give some priority order to them. While worldviews lie deep within and support one’s value
system, they are often revealed through verbalization of one’s longing, reaction to happenings past,
present and anticipated future, and openly through attitudes that stem from group thinking and one’s past
experiences. There are also many demographic factors which may bear on the expression of worldview.
Primarily the Bible storyer is looking for those that undergird the spiritual beliefs and attitudes toward a
new belief that confronts or challenges the status quo. There are several outlines which suggest areas to
explore or questions to ask. These can be made available on request.
Four Worldview Aspects to Explore
1. Perceived Needs: These are the areas where a person feels needy or lacking or desiring change in
their lives. It may be the deep longing for change, fulfillment, relationship, forgiveness, cleansing,
love, healing, restoration, for children, as well as satisfaction of physical needs: safety, food, water,
shelter, clothing, etc. Where the Holy Spirit is at work there is heightened spiritual awareness, thirst,
or desire for forgiveness of sin and assurance of one’s future life beyond this life. Talk to young and
old, men and women, known believers and unbelievers, and those of different occupations to see if a
consensus exists among the group. If not, look for the most often mentioned perceived needs. These
may help in selecting stories that arouse interest or in choosing the best story where there are choices.
Many Bridges to the Gospel are found here.
a. Past: These are events and experiences that have happened to change beliefs and attitudes. If the
events have been painful, stressful or unpleasant then negative attitudes may have resulted. In a
society these are not only individual experiences but group experiences which may have been
handed down from preceding generations. Check history or talk with older people to get details.
b. Present: These are events and experiences which are presently happening where circumstances are
changing for better or worse forcing people to take sides, to have opinions, to make decisions for
or against. Current economic, social and political events mold opinion and attitude. This
information may come from current conversation as well as news sources.
c. Imminent Future: These are imminent changes which may be real or imagined due to trends,
present events that are unfolding, or building pressures. These often add to fears for the worst or
at least serve to worry group members. Talk with leaders and heads of families.
3. Obvious Barriers to the Gospel: These are events, beliefs, practices, relationships or lack of
relationships, culture, predominant religion, nationalism, misunderstandings, or any other factor
which may cause negative attitude toward new information, belief, or a new way of life. There are
generally only a few major barriers to the Gospel though there may be many minor ones which
continually pose lesser hurdles. See general list of Barriers to get some ideas to explore.
4. Obvious Bridges to the Gospel: These are also events, beliefs, practices, relationships, experiences,
longings, that cause one to be open to the possibility of change, new beliefs, or a new way of life.
While the Barriers pose hindrances, Bridges open up the possibility of messages or a communicator
being authenticated by experiences, cultural factors, and other things common to the culture or in line
with existing beliefs of listeners. See the general list of Bridges to get some ideas to explore.
This worldview information once obtained may be a long list of many things. Look for relationship or
common roots to the issues. Look for relationship where several issues may actually be different aspects
of the same issue. Arrange the list of Barriers into a shorter priority list. Relate these (if possible) to the
Bible Truths for each track. Remember the task is not to debunk or challenge every different worldview
issue. Only deal with stumbling blocks and avoid unimportant issues which can be dealt with later. One
of the rules of Bible Storying is to keep the storying “win/win”, that is, keep the listeners listening as long
as possible and don’t needlessly waste teaching credits unless absolutely necessary. It may be better to
attack a barrier incrementally with several stories than to try demolishing it with one fell swoop.
Include bridges as needed to authenticate the Bible story, deepen interest, or to affirm what is right.
Knowledge of bridges helps to define a teaching model for a particular audience by including stories or
themes in stories that listeners can relate to. Undergird your worldview search with prayer for wisdom.
GENERAL WORLDVIEW BARRIERS TO THE GOSPEL
1. IGNORANCE: Of Spiritual Truth (unintentional—have never heard).
2. AGNOSTICISM: Intentional denial or lack of interest in spiritual truth.
3. ATHEISIM: Intentional anti-God, anti-Christian belief, professing to be a-religious, secularism.
—Resignation to one's FATE in life (Sex, birth defects, lingering or terminal illness, caste, religion.
—Moral insensitivity: Prostitution, gambling, drunkenness and drugs, piracy, murder.
—Worldliness: hedonism & good life; materialism: success, prosperity cult.
5. CULTURAL TRADITION: That conflicts with the teachings in God's Word and not consistent with
Christian living; national identity and culture equated with prevalent religion, other practices like
polygamy, certain rites of passage, shame vs. guilt cultures, cultures that practice nonforgiveness or
revenge to defend family honor.
6. SOCIAL CONVENTIONS THAT MAY OFFEND: (Jesus alone with Samaritan woman, actions
of Jael and Sisera in Deborah story, marrying a close relative--Abraham
7. FORMER RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND PRACTICES: Syncretism, superstition, idol worship,
amulets, charms, fetishes, Maryolatry, festivals and feasts, holy days, pilgrimages, rituals, reliance on
ecstatic trances and utterances in worship, false prophets.
8. OTHER RELIGIOUS TEACHINGS: Christian "Judaizers", Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists,
Jehovah’s Witnesses, any cult’s teaching that another truth source besides the Bible is needed.
9. NOMINALISM: Degenerate faith of believers, Christians-by-birth, self-righteous "Pharisee-ism" of
super Christians, spiritual laziness or hardness of heart by those who profess Christianity.
10. FEAR OF PERSECUTION: Ridicule, shame and loss of face, family and peer pressure to conform,
threat of physical harm whether real or imagined, threat of death.
11. FEAR OF LOSING MATERIAL AND SOCIAL BENEFITS: Loss of schooling benefits for
children, family medical benefits, burial places, relief aid in times of need or disaster, denial to use
wells, loss or crops and damage to housing or other property.
12. FEAR OF DISTURBING COMMUNITY HARMONY: Consequences to family and neighbors,
becoming a divided society along religious lines, problems at festival times.
13. FEAR OF DISTURBING SPIRIT WORLD: Threat of curses and other consequences to self and
family from angry spirits, concern for care and fate of community ancestral spirits, filial duties to
14. DEMON POSSESSION, INVOLVEMENT WITH SATANIC RITUALS, OTHER
PRACTICES INVOKING THE SPIRIT WORLD, WITCHDOCTORS, MEDIUMS.
15. ALCOHOLISM OR USE OF HALLUCIGENIC SUBSTANCES.
16. MISINFORMATION ABOUT CHRISTIANITY, BIASES: False teachings and popular
misconceptions about Christianity and the Bible, rumors and hearsay about Christians.
17. VOCABULARY & THEOLOGICAL TRUTHS THERE IS STRONG DISAGREEMENT
WITH: “Israelite”, Jesus as Son of God with Muslims, Catholic Church, “Mary” (words that raise
strong disagreement or anger that hinder listening and acceptance)..
18. VOCABULARY & THEOLOGICAL TERMS COMMONLY MISUSED BY OTHERS: Prayer,
“Lord”, baptism, salvation, paradise (words that others use that have a very different meaning from
the Christian use of the word)
19. BORROWED RELIGIOUS WORDS FROM PREVAILING RELIGION USED IN
TRANSLATION OF BIBLE: Words borrowed from Buddhism and Islam.
20. LACK OF SCRIPTURES IN TARGET LANGUAGE OR ONLY IN TRADING LANGUAGE.
21. LITERACY COMPETENCY OF PEOPLE: Nonliterates and functional nonliterates.
22. GATEKEEPERS WHO CONTROL ACCESS TO A PEOPLE OR INFLUENCE THEIR
DECISIONS TO CHANGE OR ADAPT NEW WAYS: Leaders seeking to conserve old ways.
23. RESTRICTIONS ON WHEN, WHERE AND BY WHOM TRUTH MAY BE TAUGHT.
24. WEATHER AND AGRICULTURAL SEASONS THAT LIMIT ACCESS TO A PEOPLE.
25. INAPPROPRIATE OR UNFAMILIAR LITRATE TEACHING METHODOLOGY AMONG
26. TEACHING METHODOLOGY THAT IS POORLY ORGANIZED, TOO HEAVILY
CONTENT ORIENTED (too much information), OR PRESENTED TOO QUICKLY (without
adequate discussion and digestion time for listeners). (jot—4/02)
GENERAL WORLDVIEW BRIDGES TO THE GOSPEL
1. DREAMS AND VISIONS ABOUT JESUS (or someone coming with an important message).
—Physical: Due to war, drought, famine, disease, handicaps, birth defects.
—Social: Imprisonment, corporal punishment, social stigma, occupation, rank or caste.
—Spiritual: Due to special work of Holy Spirit (Paul’s experience).
3. TESTIMONIES OR EXAMPLES FROM PEERS OR OTHER RESPECTED PERSONS.
4. THEIR CULTURAL STORIES THAT PARALLEL BIBLE STORIES: Also their proverbs.
5. SOCIAL AND CULTURAL PRACTICES IN BIBLE STORIES THAT ARE LIKE THE
LOCAL SOCIETY AND CULTURE.
6. DESIRE FOR RELIEF FROM FEAR, DANGER OR OTHER OPPRESSIVE CAUSES
(whether real or imagined).
7. DESIRE FOR PHYSICAL NEEDS BEING MET: Housing, clothing, food, water, medicine.
8. DESIRE FOR A BETTER MORAL OR SPIRITUAL WAY: Search for peace, social stability,
9. DESIRE FOR LITERACY, ENGLISH AS SECOND LANGUAGE.
10. DESIRE FOR EDUCATION.
11. DESIRE FOR HONOR, SOCIAL RECOGNITION, MEANING OF LIFE.
12. DESIRE FOR RELATIONSHIP AND FELLOWSHIP TO OVERCOME LONELINESS OR
13. EXPOSURE TO PERSISTENT, PERVASIVE CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE MEDIA
MESSAGES: Radio, TV, print correspondence courses.
14. CURIOSITY ABOUT WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES, DESIRE TO LEARN FROM BIBLE.
15. PRIOR KNOWLEDGE ABOUT GOD, JESUS, CHRISTIANITY: From present religion or
contact with Christians.
16. SIGNS & WONDERS, HEALING (knowing the Jesus of healing).
17. A "FAILED" RELIGION: In need or distress the present religion failed to provide help.
18. SIMILARITIES IN RELIGIOUS VOCABULARY THAT ARE IN AGREEMENT WITH THE
BIBLE AND CHRISTIANITY.
19. BIBLE STORIES WITH PLOTS OR OUTCOMES THAT ARE IN AGREEMENT WITH OR
SIMILAR TO LOCAL WORLDVIEW.
20. TEACHING METHODOLOGY THAT IS SENSITIVE TO LISTENERS’ LEARNING
PREFERENCES WHETHER ORAL OR LITERATE.
21. TEACHING METHODOLOGY THAT IS WELL ORGANIZED FOR TARGET AUDIENCE
AND PACED FOR COMFORTABLE LEARNING.
22. TEACHING IN CORRECT DESIGNATED PLACES FOR TRUTH, BY ACCEPTABLE
TEACHERS AND AT ACCEPTABLE TIMES.
23. USE OF HEART LANGUAGE OF PEOPLE FOR TEACHING.
24. TEACHING AT A TIME WHEN PEOPLE ARE NOT PREOCCUPIED WITH THEIR
AGRICULTURE OR WORK.
25. TEACHING AT A TIME WHEN THERE ARE NO DISRUPTIVE FESTIVALS THAT
DISTRACT PEOPLE AND PREOCCUPY THEIR TIME.
26. PROVIDING APPROPRIATE TEACHING CONTENT SELECTED AND ORGANIZED
FOR LISTENERS IF NEEDS BY SEX OR AGE ARE DIFFERENT.
27. EMBEDDING THE STORYING EVENT IN A “COMMUNITY TIME” WHEN TIME IS
TAKEN FOR FELLOWSHIP AND RELATIONSHIP BUILDING.
28. AWARENESS OF OTHER REDEMPTIVE ANALOGIES AMONG A PEOPLE: Examples of
where God is already at work preparing a people providing redemptive illustrations — words, present
and historical events, signs that point to salvation but are not redeeming in themselves.
GLOSSARY OF BIBLE STORYING TERMS
Affirmation or Review Track—An optional storying track which follows the Evangelism
Track with the purpose of beginning the discipling of new believers by a review of the Old
Testament and Gospel stories now that they have heard all the stories leading to salvation.
Secondary purposes are to review the key stories to encourage new believers to begin a
storying group by sharing the stories as they are being reviewed, to give those who are slow to
respond an extended opportunity to believe before the group goes on to form a church, and to
give some opportunity for those joining the group late to hear stories they missed earlier. If
all in the group profess faith in Christ some storyers will then go on to the Church Planting
Track without this track.
Bible Storying—The generic term for all forms of storying the Bible which includes
Chronological Bible Storying as well as other Bible storying arrangements which may or may
not be organized chronologically.
Bridging—This may be a part of the pre-story dialog as a minor or bridging story is given
which helps to set up the main story. It is often a background story, or a minor story leading
into the main story. (Ex: Moses’ act of killing the Egyptian slave-driver and then having to
flee Egypt to lead into the story of Moses’ meeting with God at the burning bush.) Bridging
stories may also be linked directly to the main story so that the story really begins with the
bridging story and continues unbroken into the main story. (Ex: The decree of Pharaoh to put
the Israelites to work as slaves and later to have the boy babies put to death, leading into the
story of the Hebrew midwives and their choice to honor God and not obey Pharaoh.) Usually
the teaching is concentrated on the main story and not on any issues in the bridging story
which only serve as an introduction.
Characterization or Discipling Track—This is the set of Bible story lessons which follows
the Church Planting Track. Its purpose is multifold: first is to stabilize and continue maturing
the new church members in Christ, then to begin dealing with specific issues which keep a
people from having a good testimony as God’s people, to correct errors in belief, and to help
new believers to develop good habits of prayer, meditation, and living to strengthen their faith
and guard against falling away or falling back into sin.
Chronological Bible Storying—Telling Bible stories that follow the chronological timeline
as revealed in the Bible. This generally means beginning in Genesis and going story-by-story
with selected stories to a pre-arranged stopping point. This is often used as a generic term to
describe all Bible Storying whether chronological or not in organization.
Church Planting Phase—To facilitate planning a church planting strategy the tasks
(objectives) were broken up into two broad categories. The first task (objective) was to access
a people and initiate a Bible Storying strategy that would evangelize the people, plant a
church, disciple them and train leaders. Each objective is achieved through a set of selected
Bible stories and appropriate lessons. The sets of Bible story lessons are the Tracks which are
in themselves usually chronologically arranged. When a church is planted and stabilized and
the Bible has been taught to closure in Revelation the Church Planting Phase is ended and a
new phase may be begun elsewhere. The term “phase” is used by some to refer to the
storying tracks so they would have an “Evangelism Phase”, a Church Planting Phase”, etc.
We decided that “tracks” better described the sets of stories and “phase” better described the
larger collective objectives like planting a church and all that was required to do that.
Church Planting Track—This is a set of stories, primarily in Acts 1-12 (before the story of
Paul’s journeys) plus other relevant stories on worship, giving, communion, and baptism
which may be drawn from the Old Testament, Gospels and Epistles references.
Church Strengthening Phase—While the Church Planting Phase is a closed phase—that is,
it has a termination when a church is planted—the Church Strengthening Phase is an “open
phase” in that it can continue as long as needed as part of the new church’s plan of growth.
The original Bible storyer equips local leaders to continue the teaching using Bible stories.
There may be many different kinds of storying tracks used: Preaching tracks for pastors,
maturing tracks in which deeper discipling and doctrinal issues are explored in the stories,
corrective tracks to correct error in belief or practice, review tracks to refresh the stories
periodically, Sunday School tracks, leader training tracks for emerging church leaders, and
equipping tracks for new Bible storyers. There may also be character tracks in which Bible
characters lives are studied and thematic tracks that deal with themes like obedience, love,
worship, prayer and any other themes of interest or need. Generally some form of
chronological order is retained in presenting the stories, especially with oral communicators.
Core Bible Stories—These are Bible stories which are central containing the necessary
truths leading to salvation, New Testament Church, living the discipled life, or being a good
Christian leader. It is a skeleton list which may be added to or substitutions made where there
are choices for different worldviews among listeners. The list is a suggested beginning point
for building a Bible Storying curriculum.
Crafting a Bible Story—This is the process of adapting a Bible story for telling. Crafting
can be very light with only minimal adjustment to some vocabulary or simplification, or it can
be a total restating of a Bible story by paraphrasing it into a format appropriate to a people’s
culture. Every effort is made to preserve the intent and message of the story but to shape it as
deemed helpful to communicate the story’s message, to make it more memorable, and
facilitate its retelling. Some crafting is at the storyteller’s discretion and some must be a
response to what the listeners are accustomed to or expect for an important story.
End Times Track—A last track in covering the Bible story to bring closure. Like the others
there are several objectives: it serves to celebrate the victory of Christ over Satan, to remind
again of the fate of unbelievers who will be judged at Christ’s return, and to assure believers
that Jesus will indeed return to receive his own. Some of the stories also serve as a warning
against leaving the first love in Christ or failing to persevere.
Evangelism Track—A set of stories and appropriate lessons which have a major objective of
evangelizing listeners, bringing them from wherever they are in their spiritual beliefs to an
understanding and acceptance of the Gospel.
Fast-Tracking the Gospel—This is a special kind of presentation in which the Bible is
storied in an unbroken fashion in that there is no stopping for discussion as the storyer moves
on from story to story which have been selected in advance and properly bridged between to
maintain a continuity and progression of the larger Bible story. Fast-Tracking can be done in
a relatively short period of time in a telescoped and summarized fashion, or extended over a
longer period of a day or days as there is opportunity for presentation. The storyer counts on
the overall story to provide the understanding and provoke a response. Fast-Tracking is often
used for probing for response among a people before beginning a typical storying strategy or
in follow-up rallies for radio programs or beginning discipling following crusades. It is often
used in training of new storyers to give them a panorama of the Bible story before going story
by story with appropriate teaching to train them.
Framing a Bible Story—This is a term used to properly delineate a story as it is told, that is,
to properly introduce it at its beginning and to properly conclude it at a deliberate ending
point. Sometimes a portion of a longer story may be framed and used without having to tell
the longer story. The frame also helps to give a background reference or to relate the story to
previous stories. It just helps the story to make sense or to be complete and at the same time
to be set apart as a story that can be remembered and retold to others.
Model Story Sets—These are sets of stories which have been carefully worked out after
studying a people’s worldview, the stories appropriately crafted and lessons prepared and
tested and then made available for others to use. Storying models may be fully written out in
which everything needed is included in the written lesson. Another model, called a shell
model, is basically an outline of the basic worldview issues to be confronted, the Bible truths
to be taught, the list of stories but not written out, and any other brief instruction needed to
guide a storyer to prepare their own lessons. A third model is called an oral model in that
nothing is written down. The model is worked out perhaps in a workshop and agreed upon by
all the oral communicator participants and then put into use. It must be taught orally to others
who may learn it by being present when the stories are told and lessons taught.
Oral Bible—This is a shadow strategy in that it shadows or follows along with the church
planting strategies that begin with the Evangelism Track and continue through all the Bible
teaching. The purpose is to give an “oral Bible” to oral communicators who prefer to learn
orally, who are nonliterate to whatever degree, and for those who have no written Scriptures
in their spoken language. It literally gives a hidden Bible in the believer’s heart which can be
carried into hostile areas where the Bible is forbidden or into any place where there are no
Scriptures available for any reason.
Point of Ministry Storying—Limited storying chosen to be used during ministry
opportunities. One or more up to several stories may be used. If multiple stories are used
they are often all on the same theme like forgiveness, healing, Jesus’ compassion, etc., or may
be a progression so that each builds on the previous story. Longer sets of stories may be used
during a project like well drilling. Also called Situational Storying by some storyers. Usually
no discussion of the story is given at this time. When used in homes or at hospital beds it is
always accompanied by an offer to tell more stories about Jesus if invited to come again.
Generally the purpose of stories is to lift up Jesus at the time of ministry in his name.
Post-story Dialog—The immediate post-story time when the new story is retold by one or
more of the listeners, listeners’ comprehension regarding important facts in the story is tested
by questions, listeners can ask questions about the story, an opportunity is given for
internalization of the story and its teaching by allowing for identification with story characters
or reaction to the story, and closure in which positive listener response is encouraged and
teachings are discovered or voiced that listeners should take away after hearing the story.
Pre-story Dialog—The pre-story time during which previous stories and teaching is
reviewed, questions raised which create interest in the coming story which will provide the
answers, and necessary background information or explanation is given if needed for better
understanding of the new story. It is a time when the participation of the listeners is
encouraged in their responses.
Storying Session—This is the teaching session in which the Bible story is told and
opportunity given to teach from the story. It includes all the teaching activities used to
introduce the story and the theme or truth it teaches, any reading of all or part of the chosen
story, telling the story, and teaching activities following story to allow the listeners to
discover what God is saying to them through the story. There is no prescribed time length for
a storying session. As the stories progress the sessions often get longer as interest builds,
listeners ask more questions, and more stories are reviewed as introduction to the new story.
Storying (the Bible)—This is an important concept. The word was chosen back in 1990 to
describe a deliberate preservation and communication of properly framed and intact Bible
stories as the best way to communicate the Bible’s message to a people. At the time there
were already in existence models of teaching systematically-chronologically through the
necessary Scripture by referring to the stories as the source of the expositional teaching but
not necessarily telling the stories or making any effort to communicate the story intact. Some
were in the habit of telling a portion of the story, stopping the story and teaching, then
resuming the story. Reasoning was that oral communicators preferred to receive
uninterrupted stories, were more likely to remember a story (as the container for the truth),
and to share the Bible message as a story. Practice has proved this true.
Worldview Issues: Barriers to the Gospel—These are issues, beliefs or practices which
by their very nature serve in some way to impede the proclamation of the Gospel, to hinder
receiving it, understanding it, or acting upon what the Bible teaches one should do. Generally
there are only a few main issues that initially hinder a reception and understanding and many
minor issues that must be confronted and dealt with in time as they are discovered or raised.
Knowing these in advance allows story choices to be made for the most effective stories, for
any needed crafting of the stories to minimize rejection of the story (within limits!).
Worldview Issues: Bridges to the Gospel—These are beliefs, events, hopes, dreams or
any other issues which by their very nature serve to cause listeners to be open to the Gospel
message and other Bible teachings, to serve as illustration fostering understanding, or to serve
as model for what one should do. These may be selected to qualify a set of stories for a
particular audience—Ex: adding some stories about women to a storying track for women. It
also means being sure to preserve story details which will be attractive to listeners or in some
way to authenticate the stories as being true or good.