I’m really enjoying the whole storying process and the event itself. the last couple weeks have been a great learning experience as well as time of teaching.
The last weekend of September my church middle school group attended a NorthStar Church Network retreat called Spark…A Desire for God, A Desire for Community, A Desire for the Kingdom. It is always wonderful to create ministry programs with Josh, Stephen, and Kevin. We even had a couple more folks join us this time. Everyone did a great job planning the event (special shout out to Josh and Stephen). During the retreat we had three large group worship times. I had the privilege to speak during the first session on Saturday morning. I decided to try some large group storying.
First, I reenacted Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi. Besides having a blast because this is my favorite movie of all time I was able to introduce the camp to a pre-storying process. I did the following:
1) Created space for the congregation to interact with the story I was telling. They were a “laugh track.” I pointed to them and they’d become the “laugh.” This helps because I’m really not very funny and it gives them permission to laugh and interact. I also had them give me introductory “Star Wars” music. They were all singing at different times.
2) After I retold the story in my own way, I made room for them to shout out answers to questions such as, “Who likes this story?” “Why do you like this story?” “How could a character have done something different to change the outcome of the story?” “How has this story affected your life?”
I thought they might not respond to the questions but they were all too happy to shout out answers and even take it seriously. One student asked, “What would the story have been like if Luke killed Vader?” Another asked, “What if Vader didn’t kill the Emperor?”
After we did this short 15 minute process I began with the creation story in chapter 1 of Genesis. I ended up reading the story rather than acting it out (I had some other things planned but we had technology problems). After finishing reading the story I again asked the same questions to the group. This time I had them break into groups of 4-5 and answer them. The trick this time was that they had to start by summarizing the story to each other. They had to listen and recall what was read so that they had the story right. It was here that I learned one thing…I didn’t create a system for receiving feedback from this part of the process so I had to make one up. It seemed to work partially. It was a bit disorganized but still provided an opportunity for the small groups to hear each others voices.
Essentially, each group appointed a spokesperson. That person than shared their groups response to at least one of the questions. One spokesperson summarized the story, another was insightful and asked, “What if God had decided not to create this at all? What would be the purpose?” A second group asked, “What if animals were appointed to the place humans were?” These middle schoolers were completely immersed into the story. It was exciting to see and hear what they came up with.
Now some may figure that these aren’t important questions and I’d disagree with them, but what this does show is that our students can be taught to read scripture closely, ask good questions, and join in very important conversations. By reading scripture this way they are embracing the Bible as a means for possessing what my friends Josh and Stephen call a “portable faith.” Before we know it, a portable faith might lead to being a disciple! Who would have thought?