Stories and storytelling are important in families—bedtime stories, bible stories, family stories. It is a way of teaching our family history from one generation to the next. I am sure you all bring images to mind of story time—cuddling with little ones or remembering when you were little, the warmth of sharing stories.
Stories are also important in our church families. When I lived in Nova Scotia, I directed a children’s choir and one of their favourite songs to sing—which always surprised me—was Tell me the Stories of Jesus. I think there were a couple of reasons that was a favourite song. For one thing, it is very ‘singable’ with a nice melody and rhythm. It is also one of the few hymns that mention children specifically. But I think the title appealed to them also, tell me stories! I wonder if any of those children now grown will read this and remember.
The Guardian newspaper on-line had a fascinating article recently entitled: The importance of storytelling in the digital age.
“In this rapidly changing landscape, story and strongly authored storytelling becomes more, not less, important. Recent psychological research revealed how people want to inhabit storyworlds because of how stories work in the brain. We actually always project ourselves into all sorts of storyworlds (books, films and beyond) in order to understand them. So it follows that the greater the ability of an audience to project into a world, the greater their understanding and attachment to it.”
First let me hear how the children stood round His knee,
And I shall fancy His blessing resting on me;
Isn’t it interesting that William H. Parker in the late 1800s understood the importance of projecting the children into the stories—not just telling them, but involving them, making them feel a part of the story.
Tell me, in accents of wonder, how rolled the sea,
Tossing the boat in a tempest on Galilee;
Sometimes I think we have lost the ‘wonder’ of our stories. Do we tell our stories with delight and wonder, or are we more focused on facts and curriculum and methods?
At our current church, we have Teddy Bear Nights a couple of times a year, usually on a Sunday evening. We invite families to come and enjoy story time. Children are encouraged to bring their favourite stuffed animals and wear their pajamas. Many adults wear their fuzzy slippers!
A few adults read their favourite stories to the children who are sitting around the “story telling chair” and then we have a light snack before the families go home. It is difficult to say who enjoys Teddy Bear Nights more, the children or the adults!
I have been speaking to various groups recently about Mentoring. In her book “Mentoring, A Guide for Ministry” by Cheryl Lawrie, Ms. Lawrie writes: In recent years, psychologists have been telling us that young people survive their confusing adolescence best when they have three supports: relationships with adult role models beyond their immediate families, a way of discovering beliefs and values by which they can live their lives, and belonging to a community.
Lawrie goes on to suggest that Mentoring creates relationships, which creates community within a congregation. Mentoring invites people to share their lives, stories, and faith together. The life of the church family is enhanced and both younger and older members grow in faith. “It’s one way that every church can be involved in youth ministry.”
Tell me the stories of Jesus, I love to hear
Things I would ask him to tell me if he were here
Scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea
Stories of Jesus—tell them to me.
Pass on your love and delight in God to the next generation—and tell your stories!
Creator, you began your story, and ours, so long ago. You sent your Son, our Saviour, to become part of our lives, our journey, our story.
As Jesus taught with stories, help us to pass on His story to others. Amen