The art of storytelling gives children a basic framework for understanding truth as well as the courage to live and tell about it. This week, I’m posting six important things to know about great stories! Here are important things #3 and #4:
3. You cannot have a good story without conflict. When you begin to write you realize this. Writing great stories involves chasing your main characters up a tree and throwing stones at them (I think Donald Miller said that). On a more personal level, you begin to understand your own story better when recognize this profound truth. You begin to understand and find comfort in the midst of your own suffering, because you discover a way to reconcile where we find ourselves in this world with what the Author of our stories tells us about himself. He tells us that he’s good. He tells us he is at work in all things to bring about good for us, and he tells us we should trust him. Seeing how a story works gives us the ability to see above the fray and imagine what God could be up to. Stories remind us that our lives and our suffering too are going somewhere.
4. Stories open our eyes to the real world beyond our sight. If we adults are honest, most of us do not use our imaginations in the ways that we did when we were kids. We may daydream about a new job, a new iPhone, or a new home, but we certainly don’t spend our time thinking about dragons, fairies, swords, and giants. As we grow up, we start to forget what it’s like to use our imaginations for good both because we think we’ve got the world figured out and because we begin to lose the sense of wonder that captured us as children. The older we get the more our eyes are drawn only to what’s in front of us, and we fail to remember that there is an entire world beyond what our eyes can see! We often fail to remember that there is a real battle raging in the spiritual realm—even when the fruits of this battle are being played out in our fantasies. Because we’ve forgotten to dream about fighting against the powers of darkness, we forget that this is what Christians do. Fairy tale darkness experienced through great stories is meant to shed light on life as it really is in the present—life in a fallen world, which is presently ruled by evil principalities and powers, with whom we are at war.
If you missed #1 and #2, check them out here. The chronological Bible-storying method has been used for years in New Tribes Missions, and it has gained new traction through Michael Novelli’s book Shaped By Story. Check out the children’s ministry stories that Michael has put together with the pastors at sister Acts 29 church, Soma Communites, in Tacoma, WA. Also, take time to read reflections on this movement from children’s ministry leaders Amy Dolan and Henry Zonio. Make sure you download Amy’s article from Children’s Ministry Magazine‘s Jan/Feb edition. You’ll find a link on Henry’s post. It makes sense that children’s ministry would use a missionary strategy, because each new generation is an unreached people group. This method really is the future of children’s ministry, and it is one of the driving philosophies behind the new curriculum we’ve adopted, God’s Story! More on that soon!