Kent Anderson on the Preaching.Org site put up a link to the Chronological Bible Storying Site.

What is Chronological Bible Storying? According to the site

Chronological Bible Storying (CBS) is the process of encountering God by telling the stories of the Bible. In CBS we tell Bible stories without interruption or comment and we tell them in the order that they happened in time. Afterward we discuss each story and its significance for our lives. Each story builds on those that came before; as a result, the overarching message of the Bible becomes clear and we discover our own place in God’s story.

Some Preachers Do This Well

There are two things that are of interest to me. The first is that some preachers preach this way. They tell the story with very little comment. They attempt to bring the people into the Bible story. They then provide the commentary or “points” or “lessons” after the presentation of the story.

Stories Work in Oral Cultures

Perhaps those who preach like this can find validation and help from this site. The second important point that this brings to my mind is that it validates the use of stories in oral cultures. The African American community has been identified as an oral culture by some. Perhaps those of us who attempt to reach that community aught to do what the great black preachers have done throughout the ages, simply tell the story Reverend.

In any case, this website, although not explicitly for preachers, has a wealth of information to help anyone who is attempting to tell the Bible story.

2 thoughts on “Chronological Bible Storying

  1. I read the definition of Chronological Bible Storying with interest. I am one of the pioneers of adapting and popularizing this method of telling and teaching. The definition is not quite right as it is worded. In typical CBS selected stories are told one by one and preceded by a pre-story time of review, sensitizing questions and open discussion, any necessary background information or bridging story before telling the key or main story. This then is followed by any of several post-story dialog or discussion options. One is an open discussion driven by questions and comments from the listeners (inductive). Another is a teaching lecture or commentary on the story and what is learned from it (deductive). A third is a directed discussion in which certain key questions are raised to be sure the listeners understood the story and to point them toward important lessons to be learned from the story. Telling the stories without pausing for discussion falls under what we call Fast-Tracking the Bible Story. I’ve done this many times in all day and even week-long sessions. But in preaching using Bible narratives there are also many options. My favorite is to let the stories be the points. Other options are to set up the story through exploratory questions and then tell the story to answer the questions that are raised. Some like to first tell the story and then to preach from it so that listeners do get the complete story as a whole and yet also are provided with an exploration of the story. Some longer stories like that of Hezekiah are actually several stories which can be told and commented on and linked to the next story. We also use story clusters where several stories have a common theme or explore a theme from different perspectives (like the Lost Sheep, Coin, Son parables) or that deal with a progression like the life of a Bible character. The life of King Saul makes an interesting sermon with its peaks and low points. I’ve cobbled together the story of Peter from all the pieces in the four Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles.

    Literates with some degree of education may prefer a more traditional exploratory preaching from a story but at the same time may enjoy the story told without interruption or comment. With oral communicators to interrupt a story destroys the story and may cause some to think that when the story continues that it is a new story. And oral communicators tend to take stories at face value and the story has a single point or teaching for them–they look at stories holistically, much as people did the parables in Jesus’ ministry. A literate might enjoy the parable of the Prodigal Son as seven steps to perdition and seven steps to restoration where the oral communicator would often tend to view the story in terms of the son’s dishonoring his father or in the filial piety of the son’s return home when he humbles himself before his father.

    What many of us are learning now is that postmoderns who shun the meta-story which explains everything may actually prefer and be touched by single stories that are relational and that touch their personal world. For these it can be helpful to use recast or even fictional stories that parallel Bible stories to relate to the PM listener and then follow this with the source Bible story.

    So there is a need to redefine narrative preaching in terms of Bible Storying to break away from the traditional use of stories primarily as illustrations or as a “bucket of truths” to preach from, perhaps only referring to the story but never telling it, or telling the story in disconnected segments and preaching from each segment.

    There ae two bottom lines–one is to make God’s Word accessible and understandable by oral communicators who can’t read it for themselves, but who need to know the Bible stories and who can share them with others. The other is basically a recovery of letting God’s Word be the sword that cuts while trusting the power of the Word to speak to hearts and the Word to in effect interpret the Word as the stories build. I think we are living in a new day when we are realizing the power of God’s Word to change lives without our having to filter it or interpret it or digest it so that people can make sense of it.

  2. Anonymous,

    Thank you for your correction. I would love to talk to you if you wouldn’t mind regarding the topic. Please contact me through the contact page if you would be willing to perhaps come on the SoulPreaching Podcast and talk about this very interesting topic…

    Sherman Haywood Cox II

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