You’ve probably heard the old saying that a story is like a pencil; it’s useless without a point. When you excel at storytelling, all too often a good story can become an end in itself. So as you master the craft of story telling and refine it to an art through practice, always remember the purpose of Story Circle. Story Circle should be the point in your Stockade meeting where you articulate your values in the clearest possible way, and your goal in doing this should be to see God’s truth applied in the boys’ lives.
Let’s look at a number of ways in which this desire to see God’s truth applied to the boys’ lives should affect the way you tell stories.
In selecting your stories, your first criterion will not be entertainment value-but applicability.
The best stories are those that have a direct application to the boys’ lives. Obviously a story about Jonathan and David’s friendship is more applicable than the story of Jephthah’s sacrifice of his only daughter. While I recognize that all Bible stories, if told properly, should have a direct application to daily living, we must remember the limited scope of our listeners.
Drive home just one central lesson in the story.
Since most Bible stories are complex and contain more than just one “moral,” you need to zero in on a specific point of the story. The younger boys especially will need this central focus. Thus the details of the story that you use should all be chosen to reinforce this central lesson. Your chances of seeing God’s truth applied to the boys’ lives will be greatly improved if you send them home with one central lesson in focus instead of half a dozen complex and half-baked ideas. As you begin your Story Circle the following week you might even want to check their progress by asking if any of them can tell the group how last week’s lessons helped them live to better please God during the week.
Tell the story at the boys’ level.
You don’t just want the boys to enjoy the story, you want them to become a part of the story as you tell it. If the boys can see themselves living through this story while they’re listening to it, you’re just a step away from application.
Begin with an invitation: “Have you ever wondered what it was like to ride a camel?” “Can you imagine what it would be like to become a king at 8 years of age?”
Before you go on give them a couple of seconds to think it through. Tell the story from their perspective, as they would have seen it. The problem with some of the Bible stories is that they’re too often told the way an adult saw them. If there is a child in the story, tell the story from his perspective. If there isn’t a child, use your imagination to describe what the scene would have looked like from a child’s perspective. How would that on-looking child describe what he saw to his friend the next day?
This will require some effort on your part. You will have to get to know the age group you are working with. Pick up a good book or two about child psychology (preferably one written by a Christian), all of them should have a chart about child development. These charts will break down for you the developmental process of the age group you are working with. For example, you’ll discover that a 12-year-old has a keen interest in detail. When you tell the story of Noah’s ark tell him exactly how many feet long it was. The 7-year-old still reasons things in relation to his parents, focus on this aspect of your story. While a 14-year-old has great interest in friendships and relationships, the 8-year-old is still a lone gun-he plays alone and he’s still very self-centered.
As you tell the story appeal to as many of the boys’ senses as possible.
Use visuals and object lessons when ever possible. Get them to imagine what the aroma was like inside the ark. Get them to imagine the fresh breeze when Noah got off the ark. Get them to cheer when the giant falls to the ground with the stone in his forehead.
Appealing to all of the boys’ senses will do three things:
- If you are telling a Bible story, it will make Scripture come alive. There will be great value in having them see the way in which you treat the stories of the Bible as real stories that actually happened. This will do a great deal for the boys’ respect of Scripture.
If you happen to be relating the biography of a historical character, it will show the boys the value of history. (Incidentally’ as boys mature they have a great need for identifying not only with their peer group, but with a hero or a model. This makes biographies of great interest to them. Remember that your greatest tool for fighting the negative peer pressure in the boys’ lives is to capitalize on their desire to pattern their lives after a hero or a model. Story Circle is a very appropriate time for sharing the biographies of some positive role models with the boys.)
- Secondly, it is very difficult to remember something that we have only heard. But if we have seen, heard and touched something it’s very hard to forget.
- And finally, if the boys really experience the story with all of their senses it’s just like if they were right there when it happened. And if they were really a part of the story, application is only a step away.
Though your stories might come from many different sources they should all have one thing in common. Whether you are telling a Bible story or the biography of a famous person always keep your goal sharply focused. In Brigade, we tell stories to see God’s truth applied in the lives of the boys he has entrusted to our care.