If you’re anything like me, you enjoy tweetable moments. They’re the little moments in life that are beautifully captured in a short, memorable sentence or two. Maybe it’s a hilarious line from your kids. Maybe it’s a powerful quote from your pastor. Or maybe it’s a short Bible verse that captures a big truth that is near to your heart. I love those moments, those quotes, those memories. You can see a couple of recent ones from our family below.
The Power of Story
However, we can easily focus on those short excerpts and forget the beauty and power of storytelling in the formation of our kids (and ourselves)! After all, the Bible contains over 800 stories, which comprise more than half the Bible. Think about that. When God revealed Himself to us, He didn’t primarily give us a set of true statements. He gave us a set of stories to say “this is who I am, this is what I’m like.”
Based on this, it only makes sense that we have a growing body of research indicating that we learn best through stories. God, in His infinite wisdom, knew how we would best learn. And when He chose to reveal Himself to us, He did it in a way we could actually understand. For more on the power of story, check out the short video below.
So when it comes to teaching our kids, both at home and at church, we need to unleash the power of story. Stories are memorable, impactful, and personal. Do you want your kids to remember who God is, be impacted by what He has done, and have a personal relationship with Him? Utilize the power of story when you teach them the Bible. Here are four quick ways to make stories come alive.
4 Ways to Make Stories Come Alive
Act it Out
Don’t just talk about Daniel and the Lions Den – plan to act it out right before eating cookies after dinner. Have your kids be the lions. Under the table can be the “pit” (assuming the floor is relatively clean) where the hot chocolate chip cookies are on a plate. Is it a miracle if your kids don’t devour them? I think you can easily see how this quick excercise will help your kids remember the story and more importantly, God’s deliverance in profound ways.
Sure, you could read Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God” and bring up pictures of galaxies on your iPad. But why not plan a special night to “camp out” in the back yard on a clear night. Invite your kids to count the stars. See how high they can count. Let them try again. Inviting them into the story of God’s creation will cement His magnitude in powerful ways that pictures on your phone never will.
Build a Set
Don’t get spooked here – I’m not talking about something that requires a degree in construction! Build a tent with blankets in your living room. Have one parent go in with the kids and have a party with their favorite drink. Then, have the other parent reach just their arm in and start writing on the “tent” wall. Do you think they’ll ever read the story of King Belshazzar’s feast in the same, boring way ever again?
Map it Out
Pick a story that has several scenes that are easy to recognize. Give each of your kids a piece of paper and ask them to “map it out”, including pictures. You might get a timeline, you might get a conceptual map, or, if your family devotions are anything like mine, you might get complete chaos! But instead of passively reading, your kids are actively engaging the story. For the debrief, simply ask your kids to explain their map. Getting your kids to talk about the Bible has never been easier.
Stories are powerful. They are memorable, impactful, and personal. Your kids are too valuable to underestimate the power of story in their discipleship. As Children’s Ministry expert Jim Cook has said, “Stories do more for helping kids connect with truth than any other form of communication.”
How have you used the power of story as you disciple your kids? Leave a comment!
This is the third article in a series on how Parkside Bible Church (Brownsburg, IN) views Family Ministry. Be sure to check out the prior articles, “Kids: Acorns or Oak Trees” and “3 Barriers to Your Kids Loving Jesus.”