“God made Man because He loves stories.” – Elie Wiesel, The Gates of the Forest (Gottschall)
“Yer surrounded, young man,” he growled in a voice rougher than nails. “Doncha even think about tryin’ to escape.”
Now quick: where were you just now? Yes, you…the reader. Were you noticing the chair you are sitting on, the computer screen or paper you are reading these words on? Or for a brief moment, did you allow yourself to be transported to a dark forest where someone named John was being hindered from his mission?
If you allowed your mind to take you to the location of the scene, to the point where you were seeing details that were not described by the author (the color of John’s hair or eyes, the size of his pack, the way the scroll looked and felt, the details of the surrounding forest) you just experienced the power of story.
Stories play a role in every culture in the world, in the development of children, and in the daily interactions in the mind of every single individual. Jonathan Gottschal writes in his book, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, which examines from a scientific, secular perspective the power that stories hold over us, that:
“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.” (xiv)
- Didactic teaching (which is purely to relate in a straightforward, instructional way)
- prophetic literature
- Psalm 51 takes on an added meaning when we learn that it was written by King David after his horrible failure of sin in his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband.
- The teachings in 1 Corinthians are somehow easier to swallow when it is understood that these are not just unattainable principles laid out for certain high-minded intellectuals to live by, but were written for an actual real church, with real people, and real problems, facing some of the same kinds of situations that we face today.
- The father writing to his son in Proverbs 7 recognized that, while it was important to tell him the principles of keeping himself pure, it may be more effective to communicate that principle through the story of someone who did not follow the same advice.
- Jesus’ own example of the way He taught is a testimony to the power of stories. The Bible says that He never taught without a parable (King James Version Matthew 13:34).
Nathan the prophet used this technique in 2 Samuel 12. King David was entrenched deep in his sin. How could Nathan get through to him? David was the king. He had already clearly justified himself in his mind, and taken extreme measures to cover up what he had done. A straightforward statement would likely not do much good. Nathan had to first bring David outside of his own perspective so that the king could see things as they were without being muddled by his own thinking. Nathan used a story with characters David could relate to before revealing David within the story. David first had to look at it from the perspective of the story, and see the sin for what it really was before Nathan could make his declarative statement, “Thou art the man.” (2 Samuel 12:7)
- Storytelling is an incredibly effective way to communicate a message.
- The Bible itself is a testimony of God’s belief in the power of stories. He did not just give us didactic material to study, but gave us stories of men and women of God that we could relate to.
- A teaching has so much more impact when there is an example or story to illustrate it.
- When a story is attached, suddenly the point becomes relatable.
- Messages stick more firmly in people’s minds when they hear a story, than when they are simply told something.
Speaking of stories, check out the My Choice Mini Adventures Facebook page to find some fun interactive stories where the readers make the decisions for the characters!