Bruce Gulland, is a radio producer and writer with Reach Beyond in the UK. He reports on working with local lay preachers to discover the power of storytelling.
On Saturday 1st February, I spent an enjoyable and stimulating morning leading a group to think about and practise simple storytelling approaches, for creatively communicating both biblical stories, and their own experiences and testimony. The training, which took place in a beautiful seventeenth century farmhouse on the edge of Bradford, UK, was specifically for Anglican Readers – members of the Church of England called to serve in preaching and aspects of services not requiring a minister.
They may also spend time in various ‘mission’ contexts outside the church walls; particular readers in this group spent time, for instance, with tourists in Switzerland, carers for children with disabilities, and in coffee and conversation with Muslims. We briefly explored a variety of approaches, including role-play, adopting a particular character or viewpoint, or framing a bible story in contemporary terms. We considered the importance of shaping a story for particular audiences. Crucially, I was able to highlight the strength of storytelling as a media form that communicates to the heart, going ‘under the radar’ of the critical analytical faculties that can hinder people from engaging with spiritual truth. The group were full of ideas already, so that I simply had to ‘light the blue touch paper’. A rewarding session all round.