Bible Teaching Methods: Methodology for Sunday School & Other Bible Teachers

Bible Teaching Method Example:

Storytelling

Truth or information is conveyed by using words that describe a series of events, real or imagined, in such a way as to build mental images of the characters and a plot that leads to a climax.
 

In Choosing Teaching Methodology consider your group factors:

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Tips for Choosing & Using Methods

Group size
Storytelling can be used in any size group.

Resources needed
A story can be told effectively without using any resources. It may be enhanced through the use of visuals like flannel graphs, pictures, costumes, props, puppets, objects, or video.

Objective targeted
Storytelling is good for reinforcing or explaining concepts. While storytelling may be informational, it often affects attitudes as well. Students tend to identify with a character or situation and internalize it. As such, a story may become a vicarious experience for the student.

Use modeled
Storytelling is the earliest form of transmitting culture from one generation to another but the master storyteller was Jesus Christ. We call His stories parables. He used the familiar to explain the spiritual, forming images in the minds of people with His words. Jesus used stories with individuals and with the multitude. Mark 4:34 says that in speaking to the multitudes, "He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything." Although He may have later explained the story to His disciples, He usually did not moralize at the end of a story. Sometimes He merely said "Go and do likewise." Though people did not always understand the particulars of the story, it did make them think. His stories primarily targeted adults. Examples of Jesus' stories include the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and of the farmer sowing seed that fell on four types of soil (Mark 4:1-20).

Proximity of others
Since storytelling is generally one-way communication, the noise should not be a problem for nearby classes. The use of sound effects or interactive methodology in telling the story may increase the volume of noise.

Finances needed
Storytelling can be done without incurring any expenses. If using visual aids with it, figure in costs of these materials if not already available. Props or costumes can often be found within the home or church. Pictures, flannel graphs, or puppets may come with the curriculum or can be purchased separately.

Age level
All ages seem to love a good story. Jesus' use of stories with adults shows the universal appeal. When telling a story to young children, keep it short and simple. Remember that they think concretely. They will have a difficult time making the correlation between the story and real life if the settings are not identical in both.

Categorization
Storytelling is traditionally one-way communication, meant to be impressional. Students may, however, be asked to participate in some way in the telling of the story (i.e. sound effects, acting out, gestures, repeating lines, etc.). Or, a student may be asked to retell the story. Student involvement then makes its use expressional.

Time required
Variables will be the length of the story and the amount of student interaction encouraged. The story can be designed to fit any length of time. The story can be edited to fit the allotted time by focusing on the essentials of the story. Be careful in editing a story that you do not lose the flow or bent of the story. Do not simply summarize the story.

Openness of group
Stories tend to hold the interest of most students as they usually enjoy a good story. The only way shy or more passive students will be threatened by the use of a story is if you expect them to interact in some way that puts them in the spotlight.

Room size
Storytelling can be used in any size room if you are merely telling and/or showing. If you are acting out the story or having students act out the story, you may need extra space.

Skills needed
 

Finding and Choosing Stories:

  • Look for stories from a variety of sources:
    • biblical - Use stories from both the Old and New Testaments.
    • non-biblical stories - If you use secular stories, remove anything that may not be morally appropriate.
    • life experiences - Use personal stories or the experiences of others.
    • stories from books, videos, or movies - Use either short stories or sections or scenes from the story. Stories may be biographical, factual, or fictional.
  • Only use stories that fit the lesson's theme.
  • Make sure the subject matter is interesting and appropriate to the age and background of those you will be teaching.
  • Remember stories by keeping them in a file as you find them. The file may be on the computer, in a folder, on index cards, or in a notebook.
     

Preparing to Tell the Story:

  • Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be at work as you tell the story. The objective is for the story to impact lives, not just to be a good story.
  • Take some time to make sure the story is organized to flow logically and naturally to its climax. The story should be sequential and follow a single theme rather than use flashbacks or subplots.
  • Determine which person you will assume in telling the story and be consistent with that throughout the story. You may tell the story in the first person using "I" or in the second person using "you." Or, you may tell the story in the third person using "he/she" or "they."
  • Tell the story rather than reading or memorizing it. The key is to be as natural as possible. Memorizing a story could make it too mechanical. Know the story so well that it becomes a part of you.
    • Begin by reading the story silently. Then read it over and over again aloud. If you are using a story from the Bible, read it aloud in different versions and paraphrases.
    • Outline the story according to scenes.
    • Visualize the scenes in order, incident by incident. This will help you remember the details. As you tell the story, look at those mental pictures and simply tell what you see.
    • Practice, practice, practice.
       

Telling the Story:

  • Begin by capturing the attention of the students yet don't give away the story. TV producers spend more time in the first couple of minutes of the show than they do on any other part because they know that if they don't capture your attention from the start, you are likely to turn the channel.
  • Keep the story moving. Do not add too many details or overemphasize minor details. You do not want to get bogged down or digress from the real issue.
  • Stop at the climax. Guard against the temptation to add a few lines moralizing the story. Do not sermonize. Let the implication of the story come out naturally. You can pinpoint the implications after the story is told during a follow-up session.
  • Be accurate in your representation of the story. This is particularly critical if you are using a Bible story. You do not want students to assume the embellishments are in the Bible and then have to unlearn. You may add descriptions of the culture or historical setting but make sure what you add is plausible and does not take away from the central theme of the story.
  • Exhibit some enthusiasm as you tell the story. You need to feel the story as you tell it, putting yourself into the characters. Don't be stiff. If you don't enjoy it, your students probably won't either.
  • Make the story colorful using action verbs and adjectives and adverbs to show rather than just tell. Vividly describe the setting and characters.
  • Maintain eye contact with the students as you tell the story. Being familiar with the story will help you do this.
  • Make sure the vocabulary and language structure you use is on the students' level. Use shorter sentences and easier words with children.
  • Utilize planned pauses to make transitions or to build suspense. Pausing after an important statement can help to let that thought sink in.
  • Vary the way you tell the story. Increase or decrease the speed appropriately. Change your expressions to match the mood. Lower or raise the pitch of your voice to represent the different characters. For instance, use a lower voice for men. Use a higher pitch for children.
     

Visualizing the Story:

Participation of Students in the Story:

  • You can have students repeat catchy phrases which reoccur throughout the story.
  • You can lead them in repeating motions or gestures you use in the story.
  • You can ask students to act out the story as you tell it.
  • You can sometimes converse with students as you tell the story.
     

Follow-up of the Story:

  • question/answer time
  • discussion
  • listening activities
  • writing activities
  • crafts or other art projects (particularly good with children)
  • retelling the story in their own words or by acting it out
     
 
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