My guest post by Tina Houser (part 1) will challenge you to ramp up your storytelling abilities and give you some creative ways to do so. Tina is one of my fave kidmin leaders. Consider having her in to train your kidmin staff!
Engaging kids in God’s story
by Tina Houser
When I was little, Coca-Cola came in a glass bottle with a metal cap that you had to use a bottle opener to remove. That was it … one way. Nowadays, Coke comes in 2-liter bottles, cans, squatty little cans, 20-ounce resealable bottles, commemorative bottles, and the occasional novelty bottle that looks like a Christmas ornament or a football. Inside of each of these? The same Coke that was in the bottle when I was little. Oh, I remember when they tried to change the “recipe” for Coke, and it was met with defiant, outraged, demanding fans. What Coca-Cola came to realize was that their customers didn’t care how the packaging was changed to meet their drinking needs, you better not mess with the content!
There’s a kidmin lesson to be learned from Coca-Cola and it has to do with the way we present the stories God gave us in His Word—stories of faithful and not-so-faithful people. That’s the content. The packaging, though, is up to us. When we vary the methods that we use to present these Bible accounts, we’ve got a better chance of engaging kids and keeping them interested.
Not everyone is a gifted storyteller, but everyone can become a better storyteller. If you’re working in children’s ministry, Storytelling 101 is a must. Because we have God’s story—the most important, incredibly life-changing story—to tell, we’ve got to make sure that we’re presenting it in ways that will make kids raise their heads, turn to see what’s going on, and put
them in a front row seat to God’s Word.
God deserves our very best—our personal excellence. When it comes to storytelling, the thing that will move you in that direction more than anything else is preparation. I need to say this one more time … this is God’s story! It’s a tremendous responsibility to communicate His story. Don’t take it lightly. Take off your shoes; you’re standing on holy ground. Prepare!
1. Start off by reading the story straight from the Bible. Check out a couple of different versions and translations
2. Then, read the story from a reputatable, biblically-sound Bible storybook. Make sure it doesn’t add people who aren’t in the Bible or have animals/inanimate objects telling the story. I always use Egermeier’s Bible Storybook because I know I can count on it being completely accurate. It also has 321 stories in it, so more than likely, I’ll never need to go in search of a story that isn’t there.
3. Make a copy of the pages from the storybook. Get out your red pen and highlighter and mark it up according to what would be helpful for the storytelling technique you’ll be using. If there are key words that will come up in the lesson later on, then highlight those so you make sure you include them. If you’re going to ask kids to respond throughout the story, then mark the places where that’s going to happen.
4. Practice out loud. You can read a story over and over, but until you have to say it out loud, you don’t really know how well you know it. Hearing yourself say the words will also cement it into your memory.
5. Five words. If you need more than five words as prompts, then you don’t know the story well enough. A single word can cue you to the next part of the story. Write them on the back wall, on an index card, or on the palm of your hand—somewhere not very noticeable. As quick as a blink of the eye, you can check for the next word that will transition you to the next important scene in the story.
6.Gather everything you need and practice using it. Don’t wait until the last minute and assume a prop or costume is available. You don’t want to get thrown off your game or have to come up with Plan B at the last minute. If you have props, then pick them up and go through the motions of how they’ll be incorporated into the story.
7. Throw away your cheat sheet. If you’ve practiced, have your five words, and know the story, then don’t hold onto a cheat sheet … “just in case.” What will happen is that you’ll lose your confidence and find yourself reading from the sheet. If it’s not there, you’ll have to call upon your preparation to lead you in engaging the kids.
To be continued with some fresh, creative ways for you to tell the story! You've got to check Tina's resources out! www.tinahouser.net You'll be so glad you did! They're beyond valuable.
Tina Houser is the copy editor for K!
Magazine. She is also an avid storyteller and loves to teach workshops that
help children’s workers better tell God’s story. Her book Going
Live in 3…2…1! describes 20 of her storytelling techniques. Connect with
Tina at tinapoint.blogspot.com and tinahouser.net.