Using Bible Storytelling in Discipling Children

Written by Karl Dahlfred on .

After being introduced to STS storytelling this past year, I thought I would try it out at home.  As part of family devotions each evening, I started doing something that I decided to call “Story Challenge.”  I pitched this to my son Joshua (5 years old) as a contest to see if he could tell back to me the story that I was about to tell him.   The first story we did was Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4:35-41.  We told and retold the story many times over several days.  He was hesitant to tell it back to me initially, claiming that it was too hard and that he didn’t remember anything.  So, I skipped straight to the walk through, coaxing out of him the next line of the story, bit by bit.  Often times, I throw in silly options and questions that provoke a “You’re wrong, Daddy!” type of response.  After I “bungle” the story, he tells me how the story was supposed to go.

On evenings when he is unwilling to do “Story Challenge,” I say, “That’s fine.  You don’t have to do it.  I’ll just do it with Mommy. Do you think Mommy can do it?”  Regardless of his answer, I proceed to tell the story to my wife and have her tell it back to me.  Sometimes my son covers his ears, indicating that he does not want to play. However, when Mommy leaves out a detail or misremembers the story, my son often perk ups and corrects her.

Joshua got rather good at telling the story of Jesus calming the storm (Mark 4:35-41) and was able to answer my observation questions about the story because he knew the content of the story so well.  My wife and I have a lot of fun with it too, especially when Joshua gives outlandish answers.  I asked him, “What else could Jesus have done to help the disciples besides calming the storm like he did?”  With a big smile on his face, my son replied, “Jesus makes a rocket appear, and Jesus and his disciples get in the rocket, and blast to the other side of the lake!”  We had a lot of fun but we also were able to draw out observations such as “Jesus cares for us,” “Jesus has power over nature.”  These then turned into applications about trusting God. 

I’ve had Joshua share the storm story in a couple of venues with adults (see video below) to show that kids too can learn Bible stories and share them with others.  Hopefully this is an encouragement to adults to learn Bible stories themselves and teach them to their kids and grandkids. 

As for our family, we are now working on the story of the demoniac from Luke 8:26-39, hoping to share it with people around Halloween time.  And my son is really eager for us to do the story of David and Goliath as a “Story Challenge.”  As we learn more and more Bible stories as a family, we hope and pray for opportunities to share those stories with Christians and non-Christians, Americans and Thais, and anyone else that we meet along the way. 

May God grant faith and increase faith as His Story is sown broadly.


If you can't see the video above, click here to watch it on YouTube


Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration




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