The Secret to Great Storytelling

Once upon a time...these are words that kids love to hear. Stories capture their attention and heart. They are not alone. People of all ages love stories. Each year people all over the world spend billions of dollars to hear, see, and listen to stories. Stories are part of our very DNA. We are wired to connect with stories. We are part of God's story unfolding here on earth. 

Jesus was the master storyteller. Much of His teaching was done through stories called parables. People flocked to hear His teaching. Great communicators are great storytellers. Tell stories well and you will grab the hearts of kids. 

Tell stories well and you will effectively communicate God's truth to kids. Tell stories well and you will keep kids on the edge of their seats. Tells stories well and parents will drive across town to have their children be a part of your Children's Ministry. How do you make your Children's Ministry a place where great stories are told? 

Remember it's about the presentation. The Bible contains the greatest true stories ever told. The greatest stories deserve the greatest presentation. Give 110 percent to present them well.  

Raise up great storytellers. Don't just put anyone in front of the kids. I've made this mistake before and put someone in front of the kids to tell a story who shouldn't have been there. After just a few minutes, the kids were dying. Look for people whom God has given the gift of communication. Cultivate the gift in them and teach them how to go from being a good storyteller to a great storyteller. There are lots of great books on how to be a great storyteller. Use these tools and resources to grow them.

Involve the audience in the story. Great storytellers invoke participation. Involve everyone. An example would be the story of David and Goliath. Bring up two people to play David and Goliath. Split the rest of the room into the two armies. Dramatically guide them through acting out the story while you tell it. Except for using a real rock for the slingshot!
Describe the scene. Paint the picture of what it looked like. For David and Goliath, an example would be, “It was a gloomy day. On one side of the valley stood the army of Israel. Across the valley on a rocky hillside camped the army of the Philistines.”

Describe the characters. An example would be, “They were staring at a giant man named Goliath. He was soooo talllll! His giant spear was like a tree trunk, he had a huge shield that carried the marks of battles fought and won.”

Immerse yourself in the story. Go there and picture it in your mind as you tell it.

Use voice fluctuations. An example would be, (whispering) “Suddenly the Israelites saw the biggest, strongest, man they had ever encountered, walk to the edge of the hill.” He raised his hands to his mouth and shouted to them, (loud) “Who dares to come and fight with me?” Nothing will take away the power of a story quicker than a monotone voice. Use different voice levels to bring excitement and tension to the story.

Pictures tell stories. A picture is worth a thousand words is true. The mind reads pictures much faster than words. Using pictures when you tell a story will immediately enhance it. This can be done on screen or printed pictures.

Video is a format of storytelling...use it. Movies and DVD's are simply stories. That's why children love watching them. Use videos and DVD's to communicate to children. I don't recommend going totally video, but I do recommend using it some. Balance it with live storytelling or use a combination of the two.

Use puppets to tell stories. Younger kids love puppets. Puppets can bring life and energy to a story.

The hallways of your children's building are designed with store front buildings that represent Bible stories. There are buildings like “Jonah's Travel Agency, Esther's Day Spa, Goliath's Big and Tall Shop, Solomon's Bank, Joseph's Coat Shop, Rahab's Rooftop Inn,” and more. On each building is a brochure holder that contains a card that describes that Bible story. We want parents to be able to walk up to a building, pick up a card, and talk about the story with their child. Our prayer is that the greatest stories ever told will be passed from one generation to the next. 

Posted by Dale Hudson