BIBLE STORY TECHNIQUES
1. Basic Narrative:
Although the basic narrative is the simplest method, it is also the most difficult to do well. The basic narrative is telling a Bible story from a third person perspective. How you tell it will be the determining factor as to how successful it will be. The use of facial expressions, voice inflection, and descriptive language will greatly increase the effectiveness of this method.
THINGS TO TRY:
A. Try telling your Bible story in the dark with just a candle or a spot light to illuminate you.
B. Have all the children sit on the floor in a half circle in front of you as you tell the story.
2. OBJECT LESSON NARRATIVE:
This is an extremely good method of story telling, but requires careful thought, preparation, and rehearsal. Gospel “magic” tricks can be used to illustrate a Bible story. There are a number of books published on the
subject, and many tricks can be made up of items that are common.
There is a trick where clear water is poured into another pitcher full of clear water. But as the two liquids mix the pitcher of water turns black. A cup of red water is now poured into the pitcher and the water becomes clear again. This trick is performed while explaining that sin has caused our lives to become black with sin, (water turns black), but the blood of Jesus (the red water) can wash those sins away. (Pour the red water into the black water.)
3. NARRATIVE WITH SOUND EFFECTS:
A. Adding sound effects to a narrative greatly enhances the story. Some people are very good at producing a variety of sounds with their voice; others might decide to purchase a sound effects record and have a worker play the appropriate sound on cue.
Use the sounds of a storm for Jesus crossing the Sea of Galilee, or for Noah when the rains came. A hammer and saw being used would also be good for Noah building his ark.
4. HAT AND CHARACTER NARRATIVE:
This is one of the most fun and rewarding methods, but it does take a little rehearsal. Using a variety of hats, the story is told in the first person. The storyteller puts on a different hat for each character and
alters his voice to fit the character being portrayed. As each character speaks, the storyteller must change his hat and voice. This can get hectic trying to keep up with what voice goes with what hat. If you get confused don’t let it bother you, the children will laugh and enjoy it all the more.
The story of Peter, John, and the lame man at the Gate Beautiful.
PETER: (Put on Fisherman’s cap) “Well John, let’s go to the temple and pray.”
JOHN: (Put on Baseball cap) “Right Peter, it’s 3:00, the hour of prayer.”
BEGGAR: (Put on old torn and stained hat) “Alms, alms, for the poor.”
Continue telling the story and changing hats and voices for each character.
5. TOUR GUIDE NARRATIVE:
This method takes a lot of imagination and a masterful command of the narrative method, but is a lot of fun to perform. Dress up as a tour guide and take the children on an imaginative tour of Jericho. Tell the story as if you are the tour guide taking a group of tourists.
“Ladies and gentlemen, before you stand the ruins of the once great city of Jericho. It was a mighty city, but not greater than the God of Israel. These great walls collapsed without a single arrow or stone being hurled
against them.” Continue telling the story pointing out locations of interest. “On our right is Rahab’s tower, the only portion of the wall to remain standing, let me tell you how this came to be…”
4. NARRATIVE WITH CHILDREN’S SOUND EFFECTS:
This method is similar to Narrative with Sound Effects, except that the children are the ones making the sound effects. The best method for doing this is to divide your audience into groups and assign each group a specific sound to be done on cue. The cue is usually a word spoken during the story.
Tell the story of Adam and Eve. Divide the audience into three groups. Each group will be assigned a certain sound and keyword. One group will play the part of Adam. Each time the word Adam is spoken, the Adam group will beat on their chest and do a Tarzan yell. The next group will play the part of Eve. Each time Eve’s name is spoken they will wave their hands and say, “Howdy ya’ll.” The final group will play the part of the snake. Each time the word snake is spoken they will hiss like snakes. Make sure you allow
enough time after saying a key word for the children to respond and do their sound effect.
THINGS TO TRY:
A. Try using the sounds of animals, (Noah’s Ark, David and the sheep, lion, and bear.)
B. Try sounds of nature.
1. Basic Role Playing:
A. Role Playing With Adults:
Children enjoy watching the workers do silly things. Role playing can become a very silly time. As the workers act out the story, saying their lines, a narrator fills in the gaps. It is important the skit is rehearsed,
although it is not necessary to have a line by line script to memorize. Usually just a familiarity with the story is sufficient.
B. Role Playing With Children:
Role playing with children is possibly the most versatile Bible story method. Usually a narrator tells the story, telling the various actors (the children) their lines to say. The children only loosely act out the action.
Most of the fun and humor arise from the children’s unique personalities.
Tell the story of Peter, John, and the beggar at the Temple Gate Beautiful. Select three children to become the actors. Show “Peter” and “John” where to stand, and the “beggar” where to sit. Begin the story. “One day Peter was looking for John. Peter cried out, “John, John, where are you?” (After saying what John said, stick the microphone in front of “John” and have him repeat the line.) “And John answered Peter, “Peter, where have you been?” (Now stick the microphone in front of “John” and let him repeat the line.) Continue telling the story letting the children actors repeat their lines. Make sure if the line a child has to repeat is long that you break it up into short phrases.
THINGS TO TRY:
Here are a number of variations that can be mixed and matched to provide some great Bible stories.
2. ROLE PLAYING WITH WARDROBE:
By using a collection of bathrobes, dresses, uniforms and such, you can have a real production. Tell your story in the Role Playing method. Make sure the costumes are easy to get in and out of. Also make sure they will fit over the children’s streetclothes. Even though a Bible story takes place in the past, you can still use modern day costumes to tell the story. Dress up a king in fancy duds, a beggar in rags, a soldier in army
3. ROLE PLAYING WITH HATS:
This method is quick and fun. Tell your story in the Role Playing method. As you select the different children to play the different roles, give each one a hat that fits the part of the role he is playing. For example; a helmet for a soldier, a gangster hat for a villain, a crown for a king.
4. ROLE PLAYING WITH MIME:
Role playing with mime is usually used with the Role Playing with Adults method. As the narrator tells the story, the workers very carefully act out the action without ever saying a word. They must make all of their actions and movements “bigger than life” to portray the story effectively.
5. ROLE PLAYING WITH CHARADES:
This is similar to the old game of charades. Workers act out the story while the children guess what is happening. Use a moderator to clue the children when they have the story right, or to give small hints to keep them on track.
6. ROLE PLAYING TO A BALLAD:
Occasionally you need a story about which a singer has written or recorded. A good example of this is the song about the resurrection of Jesus Christ entitled, “He’s Alive,” as recorded by Don Francisco. Merely play the record or cassette and have your workers act out the action of the song. You can really put on a show by adding make up, wardrobe, and lighting effects.
7. ROLE PLAYING WITH STROBE LIGHTS:
This is a very interesting method. The story is told by a narrator as the workers act out the action. Have all the lights off in the room with the only illumination coming from a strobe light. This creates the illusion of
stop action, like in an old time film. It is a real crowd pleaser.
8. ROLE PLAYING WITH PUPPETS:
Role playing with puppets is a cute method of telling a story that the children will really enjoy. Dress your puppets up as Bible characters and have them act out the Bible story, saying their lines with the appropriate action.
9. ROLE PLAYING WITH VENTRILOQUISM:
Role playing with ventriloquism can be effective. This is one of the few methods that takes an extreme amount of practice. If you have already developed the ability of ventriloquism, it can be used effectively by a worker playing one role and the dummy playing the other. This method is not good if there are many characters involved in the story or if a lot of action is required.
1. Multi-Media Method:
The Multi-Media Method of Bible story telling is actually a number of methods that use various specialized tools with which to visualize the story. These tools can be used to create a lasting impression on the children. A few things to keep in mind when using Multi-Media Methods are:
A) Make sure they are large enough for everyone in audience to clearly see.
B) Make sure all visual aides look good; avoid “making do” with amateur-looking aides.
C) Use a variety of aides to tell the story. Avoid using one picture and telling an entire story around it.
The Story-Sketch Method is an old “tried and proven” method of telling a Bible story. In this method a picture is drawn while the story is being told. This can either be done by the person telling the story, or by an assistant. If you can find a worker who is a talented artist, you will find that the story will flow smoother with an assistant doing the drawing rather than trying to do both at the same time. The picture content can be very simple, or quite complex. It can be humorous, or very serious. Whatever the picture is, it is wise to lightly sketch it out in advance with a pencil, so that you will be able to quickly and accurately draw during the story.
A) Chalk Talk:
The chalk talk is an excellent Multi-Media Method, but it does require certain artistic skills. While the story is being told, you draw a picture revelant to the story, using colored chalks. Generally these pictures are
serious in nature, reflecting a particularly exciting portion of the story. Florescent colors can be used that will glow under black light; this is quite impressive. At the end of the story, the picture can be given away to
a child who has been listening attentively. This is a great way of maintaining discipline.
B) Magic-Marker Method:
This method is a simple one that anyone can use. You merely sketch your picture out in advance with a light colored pencil. Then, as the story is told, you just trace the pencil lines with your magic-marker. Different colors can be used to help highlight the picture. This method is ideally suited for caricature drawings, or for the surprise picture method. Caricature drawings are humorous with the various components of the picture drawn in a simple cartoon style. In the surprise picture method, the drawing appears to be one thing at first, but as the picture progresses, it becomes something else. The Magic-Marker Method is well suited to use with an overhead projector also. If you have a large group, keep this method handy.
3. Prepared Pictures:
The Prepared Picture Method is one of the oldest and most used methods of telling a Bible story. In this method, you tell the story while pictures depicting the actions are presented to the children to reinforce the story. If you have an exceptional story teller, he can sometimes use just one picture. But this is the exception rather than the rule. Normally, there should be several pictures, each corresponding to a particular part of the story. Remember to look at the children when telling your story. Avoid talking “into” your picture.
A) Flannel Graph:
“The Flannel Graph Method has been in use for many years, but this does not invalidate or necessarily outdate it. In using the Flannel Graph Method, a background picture is drawn or painted on a large piece of flannel fabric. This picture could be an outdoor setting, a city setting, or perhaps the interior of a house. As you tell the story, place prepared pictures of the main characters in their respected places on the flannel background. The “character” pictures are cut out around their borders so that when placed on the flannel background, they become a part of the overall picture. There are numerous manufacturers of these prepared “character” pictures. The pictures come with a coating on the back that help them stick to the
flannel background. An entire library of flannel graph can be built over a period of time. The “character” pictures can be used in a number of different stories, as can the background flannels.
B) Flash Cards:
A story can be told with prepared pictures either from a children’s book, or from a manufacturer of Bible story pictures. If you are a talented artist you might like to try making your own, but generally it is easier, and the product will look better, if you use professionally prepared pictures. As you tell the story, hold the pictures on your lap, (assuming they are not too large). This will draw thechildrens’ attention to you and will minimize discipline problems. Maintain eye contact, pointing to the main characters of the story in the pictures.
C) Overhead Transparencies:
This method works extremely well with large audiences. Tell the story as you would with the Flash Card Method, but instead of using Flash Cards, you will place overlays onto an overhead projector to project the picture onto a screen. These pictures are not readily available, so it is easier to make your own rather than trying to locate premade overlays. The easiest method of making them is to take pictures that are designed to be colored with crayons and have a clear overlay made on a photocopy machine. The overlays can then be colored in with colored marking pens. An alternate method is to trace the picture with a black fine tip pen and then add the appropriate colors.
D) Slides/Film Strips:
Slides and film strips can be used with good success and are ideal for large audiences. Generally these are purchased prepared from a company that publishes curriculum. Sometimes a cassette or record comes with the slides or film strip. In that case you merely set up the equipment and show the presentation. If that is what you are going to do, make sure that the projector and the sound equipment are set up and ready to go. When it is time to present the story, turn off the light and hit the switches. Occasionally the story presentation is left up to you. If this is the case, seat yourself behind the children where you can see the screen, and use a microphone, if one is available.
1. Interview Method:
The Interview Method can be a lot of fun when used on a limited basis. One of the workers is dressed as a television or newspaper reporter. He then interviews people who know the Bible story, by asking them key questions. It is important that the reporter does not tell the story himself, but merely asks questions. The person being interviewed must do more than simply give a “yes” or “no” answer to the questions. He must give an interesting answer, animating his movements as he tells what happened. There is a tendency for the one being interviewed to get carried away and forget that he is being interviewed. Keep the answers to the questions brief, but not abrupt.
2. Interview Derivations:
1) Bible Character Interview:
Interviewing a character from the Bible is ideal. Select a character that was an eye witness to an event. Dress him up in an appropriate costume, with make-up and a wig. Hopefully the children will not recognize the person behind the character. You can interview more than one character to tell a story.
2) Children’s Interview:
This is an interesting way of telling a story. This method works best with a Bible story that the children already know. The interviewer asks questions, or interviews the children and gets them to tell you, the
reporter, the Bible story. This method is excellent when you want to review a previously taught story.
3) Guest Interview:
You can add flavor to your service by bringing in someone the children do not normally see in children’s church. Have this person share an experience in his life that parallels the Bible story. As the interviewer asks the questions, he will tie in the responses to the Bible story. Make sure you rehearse this method in advance. Explain to your guest beforehand exactly what you expect from him.
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