This blog has been very quiet, since I spent last week at the European Conference of Christian Educators, in High Leigh. With delegates from at least six countries, it was a fascinating and inspiring week, with many things I’d love to pass on to you.
I’m going to start with a very simple one, which we did several times and yielded very profound results. It’s a storytelling method called a “Bibliologue” – a portmanteau of Bible and dialogue. Those of you who use Godly Play, or who do wondering questions, will find it very familiar, but with a few important differences. For example, the wondering takes place throughout the story, not just at the end, and the wondering is focused specifically on the characters, leaving out symbol, imagery, analysis, etc.
The structure is this:
Explain the ground rules. There are only two: 1) there are no right or wrong answers, and 2) nobody has to participate who doesn’t want to.
Read or tell a part of the story.
Pause and invite the listeners to imagine they’re a particular character, and to speak, as that character, about what they’re thinking or feeling at this point.
Read or tell the next part of the story.
Choose another character, and ask the listeners to imagine they’re now this character, and, again, respond as that character to what’s happening now.
Repeat until the story is done.
Even with my years of storytelling, I was surprised at how effective this simple technique was for bringing the story to life in new ways.
We found it helped to focus not just on the main characters, but on the incidental ones – for example, in the story of Jesus calling James and John, Mark mentions that James and John left their father in the boat “with the hired hands,” and we imagined what the hired hands might have thought of what was happening.
There are also non-verbal ways of responding – for example, one of the stories we explored was Jesus sending out the twelve disciples for the first time. The leader brought out 5 chairs, one labelled “Jesus” and four labelled “Disciple,” and invited us to come up and move the chairs to create a tableau of how we imagined the scene. Were the Disciples staying close to Jesus or eager to get going? Was Jesus facing them as they left, or had he turned away? Were the Disciples already branching out into pairs or were they staying together until they had to separate?
I plan to use this in my own Sunday School, and will report back! Meanwhile, if you give it a go, let me know how you get on, and share any top tips or “learn from my fail” lessons you learn!