Telling God’s Stories with Power

Biblical Storytelling in Oral Cultures
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This is a complete and practical introduction to storying, especially for people who want to learn about using biblical storytelling in cross-cultural contexts and who want to train others to become storytellers. It includes many fascinating accounts of the responses of tribal people to the first proclamation of the gospel through storytelling.

The result of years of research and field testing, Telling God's Stories with Power is a product of the author's own journey as he confronted the challenges of teaching the Bible in parts of the world where people are unaccustomed to a Western style of learning. Full of innovative and groundbreaking insights, this study is packed with ideas, explanations, and constructive suggestions stated in clear and simple language.

Throughout the book there are extensive examples from the storytellers' own experiences. Tracing the movement of the biblical stories across multiple generations of tellers and listeners, storytelling is found to be superior for knowledge transfer and for bypassing resistance to the gospel in oral contexts, thus presenting clear evidence of the effectiveness of biblical narrative among oral learners.

  • ISBN: 9780878084654
  • Pages: 334
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Published: 2010
  • Publisher: William Carey Library


Readers interested in orality and church planting movements will find this volume extremely helpful.

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For those working with primary oral learners this book is a must read!

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I wish this book had been available when I was living and working among a non-literate people in Nigeria.

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This book describes the extraordinary energy unleashed by teaching oral culture people to tell the stories of the Bible by heart to their family and friends in their villages.

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Table of Contents







  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. A World of Orality - Oral vs. Literate Learning Styles; Literacy and Illiteracy Orality in India; Oral Stories in Peasant Cultures

Section One: Theoretical Foundations

  • 3. Orality in the Bible - Transmission of Biblical Knowledge through Storytelling;  Jesus' Example; Paul
  • 4. The Development of Biblical Storytelling - Chronological Bible Storying; Where Next?; Two Kinds of Thinking
  • 5. Stories and Learning - The Educational Role of Stories Literacy and Orality; A Church-Compatible Training Model; The Affective Aspect of Learning; The Power of Discovery; The Value of an Example Praxis; The Importance of Transfer
  • 6. Theological Foundations of Storytelling - A Pentecostal Theology; An Experiential Christianity; Whose Theology?; Felt Needs


Section Two: Training Storytellers

  • 7. The Storytellers - A Pilot Project; The Oral Bible Project; A Systems Model of Training; Description of the Participants
  • 8. The Story Training - A Standard Day; Accountability; Learning to Tell the Stories; Story Selection; Structuring a Story Track; Remembering the Stories; Story Scripting; Performing the Story; Story-songs
  • 9. The Product - The Biculture Learning Model; Generation 1; Generation 2; Generation 3; Generation 4; The Adult Education Component

Section Three: Findings from the Research

  • 10. Outcomes that Emerged from the Program - Verbatim Reports from the Participants; Application of Story; Comparisons of Storytelling with Other Methods; The Interface of Orality and Literacy; Identification with Bible Characters; Faith; Felt Needs; The Burning Bus; Other Felt Needs; Field Leaders' Questionnaire; Comprehensive Examinations; The Exam Findings; Conclusions
  • 11. Case Studies - Felt Needs; Leading to Conversion; Mangal Kisku Bilion Soren; Transformed Lives; Somarsing's Story; Rubilal's Story; Anil's Story
  • 12. Conclusion - The Oral Bible Project; A Look Back; A Look to the Future; Areas for Further Research; Congregational Research Ethnomusicology; Issues to Be Resolved; An Oral Theology; Institutional Schooling or the Oral Bible Model?


  • A. Where Stories Were Told
  • B. Two Accounts of Violence Against Christians
  • C. Sample Field Report Form with Mnemonic Symbols
  • D. Stories Learned
  • E. Facial Expressions That Portray Human Emotions
  • F. Story-song Examples
  • G. Comparisons of Storytelling with Bible School Training
  • H. Comparing Storytelling with Other Methods
  • I. Themes in the Verbatims
  • J. Case Instance Examples: 1. Application of Story; 2. Barren Women Who Conceived; 3. Conversion; 4. Financial Need; 5. The Dead Raised; 6. Is This a Real Story?; 7. Peace in Human Relationships; 8. Felt Need for Help with School Exams; 9. Nonliterates and Story Learning; 10. Application by Storytellers; 11. Resistance to the Gospel Overcome
  • K. Comprehensive Exam Scores
  • L. Multiple Choice Questions


  • End Notes
  • Index of Authors
  • Index of Verbatims by Theme
  • Index of Topics
  • References

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