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The Power of God's TOLD Story

Posted by Connie Seale , in Orality 29 July 2019 · 0 views

By Renee


After telling the story of “Jesus Calms the Storm” to the crowd, there was a silent hush in the room. It was palpable. I didn’t READ the story from Mark 4, but my eyes had interlocked with those around the room as I invited them into the boat with me.


The power of God’s Word, combined with the power of the “told” story . . . leads to Gospel access and deep life transformation.


This Gospel access is, first and foremost, needed in our own hearts. We all need JESUS, the living Gospel, to daily access our hearts, leading to deep and lasting life change. We need daily Gospel access . . . not just on the day of our salvation. This Gospel access is needed in our own hearts, in our churches in North America, and around the world.


Most believers in Christ would agree that the Word of God is powerful. It is God-breathed and God inspired, with the power to break and convert the hardest of sinners’ hearts. It has unfathomable power to rescue lost souls from the power of the Kingdom of darkness and to bring them into the glorious Kingdom of light.


When the power of the Word of God is combined with the power of the “told” story, something radical happens. The Word of God comes to life for the listener. The listener is no longer just a listener, no longer just an observer. Rather, the listener is invited into the story, propelled out of his seat and off the shoreline. The power of the story itself invites the listener into the boat.


He lands right there in the middle of the boat, alongside Jesus and His closest followers. He can feel the storm, hear the wind, feel the wet water splashing onto his feet as the waves come crashing into the boat. He can feel the rocking vessel and the terror in his own heart, as he fears that they will drown. He is right there with Jesus’ closest followers, shaking the sleeping master awake and screaming, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are drowning!” He is right there, standing in awe, when Jesus performs the mighty miracle and calms the raging storm . . . right there when Jesus challenges their faith . . . right there when they question who this powerful man is.


The listener is no longer just a listener, but an active participant in the narrative. He becomes a part of the story.


The power of God’s Word, combined with the power of the “told” story . . . leads to Gospel access and deep life transformation.


Many of us are still convinced that Bible stories are only for children in Sunday School classes with a flannel graph board, or for those “oral peoples” way “out there,” drinking tea under the mango trees. However, there are very few who are not impacted deeply by the power of the “told” story of God’s Word . . . no matter how old they are or where they live.


Past statistics showed that approximately 2/3 of the world is comprised of “oral learners.” However, recent studies reveal that perhaps up to 80% of the world is made up of those who communicate orally. Primary oral learners are those who have no choice. They cannot read and write, and therefore, give and receive all information and communication through oral and spoken means. Secondary oral learners, on the other hand, are those who have a choice. They can read and write; however, they PREFER to communicate orally.


Many of these secondary oral learners sit in our church pews in North America and much of the Western World. Our global addiction to screens and technology has carried us into an oral, audio/visual world that is full of storytelling through social media. Many of us are “digit-oral learners,” and if we don’t consider and rethink the way we are communicating inside and outside of our churches . . . people may not listen . . because they are DEAF to our message. We may not be heard, truly heard, by those we are trying to reach. This leads to missed opportunities for Gospel access and deep life transformation.


Try this!


Sermons provide great opportunities to tell stories . . . testimonies and Bibles stories. Many times we read God’s Story from the written word. That’s not a bad thing, but try to learn the story beforehand, take it to heart, and then TELL God’s Story. When you look people in the eyes and TELL them God’s story, something radical and beautiful happens!


Stories are powerful for Sunday School classes of all ages, youth groups, small groups, and for those who are facing the new challenge of refugees and immigrants arriving in their neighborhoods and communities. For those searching for a creative means to build relationships and to bring these “strangers” Gospel access, God’s spoken narrative is a great tool to use. Many of these new arrivals are coming from oral cultures who communicate through storytelling, so this Gospel access feels natural and inviting. Using God’s “told” stories as curriculum in language classes (ESL and others) is a powerful way to meet their felt needs to learn a language and to integrate, as well as to invite them to walk through the gate of the Gospel.


The power of God’s Word, combined with the power of the “told” story . . . leads to Gospel access and deep life transformation.

New to the Orality Blog?

An oral learner is:


Someone whose most effective communication and learning format, style, or method is in accordance with oral formats, as contrasted to literate formats.
Someone who prefers to learn or process information by oral rather than written means. (These are literate people whose preferred communication style is oral rather than literate, even though they can read.)
Someone who cannot read or write (this represents about 5% of the world's population).

Did you know?


There are an estimated 4.35 billion people who are oral learners. This includes 3 billion adults, 900 million very young children, and 450 million children between the ages of eight and fifteen; all of these have basic or below basic literacy skills. They are oral learners because of their limited literacy skills.
The vast majority of missions work has been done for a literate audience. Unfortunately the vast majority of the true audience is therefore not able to connect with the Gospel.
Oral cultures are very relational - they share their lives with one another.
Most oral cultures will communicate with one another in narratives, dialogues and dramas, proverbs, songs, chants, and poetry. When asked what he thought about a new village school headmaster, a Central African replied "Let's watch how he dances".

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