Storytelling ~ story listening
Become all the storyteller you were created to be!
- the dawn of communication, one human to another …
- the first tribe gathered around their camp fire …
- the beginnings of the passing on of survival skills, dreamings, and traditions …
- the start of handing down histories, one generation to another …
Among the respected elders of the tribe were those who were the best storytellers.
When it comes to developing the art of being the best storyteller you can be, and important part of the journey is also to become a great story listener. Chicken, egg, egg, chicken … no one of these comes first but they both must be present in order to excel in this area. The principles below will help you to observe and listen to the stories of God, your community and others as well as and share God’s Big Story, the stories of your community as well as your own stories.
Want more? All these principles are also helpful when it comes to preparing great drama, clown ministry, puppet scripts, skits and the like.
Again, they are especially important in the way you engage God’s Big Story, the Bible.
What do you see?
The little icon you see just above or to the left of this section depicts the age-old conundrum … what do you see? Two people face to face? Or a lampstand? Two people sharing their stories, their language, their life, their history in dynamic, relational ways? Or a static candlestick? The latter is a much more recent invention than that of ‘communication’.
When it comes to seeing yourself as a storyteller, a story listener, or neither, the choice is simple. Engage with the person you are with in as respectful, creative, and thoughtful way as possible or just be as passive as a lump of brass. Too harsh? Well, the truth is that most of us most of the time are somewhere in between. Both at once. Like the icon image.
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God’s story, Our story, Your story/my story.
Their are various ways of understanding the interplay of these three stories. Learning to engage and connect with each of these through storytelling and story listening helps us to respond and participate in each story. No matter where you start, growing a just-right relationship, a sense of belonging, or some appreciation or identification with each of these stories is the beginning of a journey to the centre of all three.
God’s story … best expressed in creation; the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; the Hebrew Bible as it points to Jesus; the New Testament along with God’s church being Jesus ‘with skin on’ in the world and individual lives today. Wow! God’s Big Story!
Our story … Our families and friendship groups, tribes and villages, communities and cities, nations and alliances … all with their values, traditions, culture, and STORY!
Our individual stories … Yours. Mine. Another’s. All different! Perceived truth for each of us as individuals. Whether we can articulate our own story in words or listen to another’s story doesn’t change this idea that we each, individually, have a story.
A story is like making, eating and really tasting a meal of tacos
You stand next to a bestie at the food table as you each construct a taco. You just mention, “I’ve been ‘let go’ from my job this week.” You sense him nod. Then you hear him say, “We went fishing up on the river last weekend.” You grunt, and mention, “I’m off to see the kid’s in a school performance Thursday night.”
Another time you are with a with a friend at a cafe and have ordered tacos. You tell your friend something you’ve seen and before you even finish your friend says, “I know! Saw the same thing!” Then proceeds to share a bit of related info … and then you cut in and finish the sentence for your friend and add another snippet!
And so it goes on … both communicating, listening, responding with anther story.
This section of storytelling – story listening explores what is going on in these situations. This section is a little about the science of story and how story is a bit like preparing a taco meal.
Story deconstructed #2
A little like a taco … yummm!
Story deconstructed #3
Becoming a story listener
Bible listener _ Bible story teller
Detective: Sherlock or Eenola Holmes … silly outfit, pipe?? finding what’s important, insightful.intuitive. piece together a story (what actually happened, not contaminate the story/aware of biases/prejudices), Jnr Partners HS detective agency this is this story in the bible? what did it mean to the original story-listeners, how does this help us to be Jesus/the Church today?
Wrestler: takes control of writing.telling the story; prize/olympic medal/best, protective of themselves/integrity, the right/appropriate way, truth/message, meaning/learning point, preparation/training, how do I deliver, I wonder questions. How is the way we are going about the way we tell the stories relevant and understandable to today’s audience … being Jesus to our audience today.
laughter, engaging, relatable, ALWAYS appropriate/sensitive to context, draws people in to the world of story, humility, EXCESSIVE: emotions (feelings), verbs (tactile/facts), reflective (thoughts), senses (aware/vibe)
Becoming a Bible Story listener
Mark 9:33-37 … Who Is the Greatest?
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
- your responses
- Holy Spirit nudges
- any responses of others (e.g.learning point/theme words: • Jesus sorts out his disciples’ ambitions with a child • Humility can replace huge egos • Fame is not the boss
Find the mini stories … suggested as:
- Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”
- But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.
- He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
- Then he took a little child and put it among them [in their midst];
- and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
Deconstruct each mini story
This takes some time and some choice regarding how you use:
- detective work to uncover context, why this story is in the Bible, what did it mean to the original story listeners
- biblical imagination & Holy Spirit discernment to place yourself in the story to ‘fill in’ what is implied
Storytelling Consultancies & Training
There are a number of options to help get the direction right for you in this area
- A phone or coffee conversation with Phil on this topic.
- A review of your program and training against these keys to affirm and encourage those areas you are doing well and suggestions for improvement where and if required.
- A presentation of an overview of these areas with discussion. (20 minutes or up to 1hr)
- A 4hr workshop exploring one or more of these themes in a interactive discussion.