Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Outreach/Christian Storytelling

Christian Storytelling
General Conference
Skill Level 2
Year of Introduction: 1928

1. Name one source where you have found material for stories for each of the following categories. Tell a story from each category.


a. Sacred history


Stories in the sacred history category are Bible stories. These are obviously found in the Bible!

Sample Story: Daniel 6
The story of Daniel in the Lion's den tells of his obedience to God. Daniel loved to talk to God daily and he did this publicly three times each day religiously. Some people in the Kings palace did not like Daniel so they plotted to take his life by using his religious practices against him. These men tricked the King into passing a law that anyone found praying to another God except the King were to be cast into the den of lions. The King signed the decree and the men went to work to trap Daniel. Daniel did not chance his routine but went ahead to his open window and prayed to God as he always did. When the men informed the King about Daniels doings the King was very upset with himself but he could not take back his decree. He commanded that Daniel be cast into the lions' den telling him that his Daniel's God will deliver him.

The King spent the night fasting and was unable to sleep. Early the next morning he went to the lions' den and found that Daniel was still alive. Daniel told him that God had sent his angels to seal the lions' mouth shut and they had not hurt. As a result of their actions the men who had plotted against Daniel along with their families were thrown into the den of lions and they were killed by the lions. Obedience to God will by God's people will always result in the protection of His people.

b. Church history


Paul B. Ricchiuti has written several books covering church history at the Primary and Junior levels:

c. Nature


Jim Arnosky has written many excellent nature stories and field guides for the younger crowd. These books are excellent resources.

The life cycle story of penguins, bees, ants, and frogs are truly fascinating. Consult an encyclopedia for details, or check out a book from your local library. Most children enjoy acting out the life cycle story of the penguin:

  • Have them walk and slide on their tummies to a "rookery"
  • Hand each girl an "egg" (not a real egg!) and have her pass it to a boy using nothing but their feet.
  • Direct the girls to return to the "sea" to get "fish" (you can make fish from construction paper). It may be wise to have an assistant hand out the fish.
  • Have the boys huddle together to fight the cold Antarctic winter/night, rotating the boys from the inside to the outside so no one gets too cold. Tell them to keep their eggs on their feet.
  • Take the "eggs" from the boys and give them "baby penguins" (plush toys work well for this)
  • Call the girls back and have them find the boy they passed their egg to. Then direct them to give the fish to the babies. (In reality, they regurgitate the fish when they return).
  • Have the boys return to the sea to eat - they haven't in several months! Then they return and feed the babies fish.
  • Finally the whole family returns to the sea.

Children also enjoy acting out the parts of the Sun, Earth, and Moon:

  • Designate one child as the Sun - give "the Sun" a flashlight
  • Designate another child as the Earth and have the earth spin around on its axis as the Sun shines on it. Point out how one side is dark (night) and the other is bright (day).
  • Designate a third child as the Moon. Have the moon orbit the Earth, but make sure the Moon is always facing the earth (its rate of rotation and orbital period are the same).
  • Then set the Earth in orbit around the Sun and see of the Moon can keep up.

d. Character story


A character story is a story about a person. It could be a famous person (such as Abraham Lincoln), a not-famous person, or someone you know. Choose a story that demonstrates good character. You can also tell a story about someone with bad character, but be absolutely certain that you share the consequences of this person's poor choices.

An encyclopedia, book, newspaper or magazine article, or first-hand knowledge are excellent resources for these stories. The Adventist Book Center also carries bedtime story books by Arthur S. Maxwell - these stories are true classics. If you do not have these books, check your church or Adventist school library.

Sample story
Little Johnny and Bob were classmates who went to the same school but did bot know each other. Bob was a big boy, but Johnny was the smallest and sat in a corner by himself. Johnny did not talk to anyone in the class. The teacher started out the school year with the class rules and discussed the consequences for breaking them. One day Bob broke one of these rules, and when called to take his punishment of five lashes from teacher's ruler, Bob could not take the punishment. No one knew, but Bob was deathly afraid of being whipped. He stood rooted to the floor when the teacher called him and cried until he wet his pants. The class was sorry for Bob but could do nothing to help him even though they begged teacher not to punish him. The teacher told them that someone had to be punished for Bob's misdeed. The children all grew silent and waited, when from the back of the room a little voice said "I'll do it".

This is what Jesus did for all of us every time we sin we do not have to worry because Jesus went to the cross and died for out sins so we don't have to die every time we commit a sin. So let us think about his sacrifice for us every time we are tempted to do something that Jesus would not be pleased with.

e. Object lesson with visual aids


An object lesson is a story that warns others as to the outcomes that result from a particular behavior as exemplified by the fates of those who followed that course. The Biblical stories of Esau, Balaam's donkey, and King Saul are excellent examples. Uncle Arthur's story books are replete with object lessons. After choosing a story, you will need to choose a visual aid. A visual aid can be anything from the story, but the more central the visual aid is to the story, the better.

Web sources


The internet has become a wide-ranging source for stories from all categories. The following links will take you to sites that contain possible sources for stories to tell. Add your favorite sites:

Use an Internet search engine to look for Adventist Mission Stories and you will find a long list of interesting and true mission stories that will captivate the young mind.

2. For the above stories you tell, do the following


a. Tell one of your stories to children, aged five and under, for at least three minutes.


Volunteer to tell a story to the Beginners (Cradle Roll) Sabbath School class in your church, or if your church presents a children's story during the worship hour, volunteer to tell that. You can also tell stories if you volunteer to work the child care aspects of an evangelistic series.

b. Tell one of your stories to the 10-12 year olds for at least five minutes.


Volunteer to tell a story to the Juniors Sabbath School class in your church, or tell one around a campfire during your next club camp out. You can also tell a story as part of the worship service during a Pathfinder meeting.

3. Make a written outline of a story you are to tell.


An outline is a hierarchical organization of an idea - in this case, a story. The major bullets in the outline should include the setup, description of a conflict, how the characters react to the conflict, how the conflict is resolved, and the events caused by the resolution.

  1. Setup
    1. Where and When
    2. Description of protagonist
  2. Conflict
    1. Description of antagonist
    2. Nature of the conflict
  3. Reaction to conflict
    1. What the antagonist does
    2. What the protagonist does
  4. Resolution
    1. How the conflict is resolved
  5. Aftermath
    1. What happens to the antagonist
    2. Lessons learned

4. State how and under what circumstances course material is to be modified for the following


a. Telling the story in first person, second person, and third person

First Person
A story told in the first person is one where the words "I", "me", "we", "and "us" are used. It is a story about yourself. These stories are among the most compelling because they come from the story teller's personal experience - and the audience knows that.
Sample Story
I grew up with three sisters and one brother in a little town called Brown's Town where I went to church and school with all the other children in my neighborhood. Our parents told us to come straight home from school each day and not to linger on the road. We lived one mile from school and if we walked briskly could be home in thirty minutes.

This particular day I decided that I did not want to go home early but would go with a friend of mine to Goshen to visit her grandmother. She promised me we would not be long but she just needed to pick up something from her grandmother to take home. When we got there I noticed a tamarind tree in her grandmother's yard and it was loaded. We picked some and I discovered that they were sweet and I wanted to take some home for my siblings. We had fun picking tamarind and anything else we could pick. Before long two hours had passed and I knew that I was in trouble.

We ran all the way home but to my dismay my mother was waiting for me and all my other siblings were already home. That day in spite of my reason and the tamarind I had taken home I got a whipping that I will remember to this day for disobeying my parents.

Second Person
A story told in the second person is one where the word "you" is used. A good way to tell a story in the second person is to direct your audience to close their eyes and imagine specific points in your story: "Imagine yourself as you walk through the forest. You can hear the birds sing. You can feel a gentle breeze on your face." Bible stories lend themselves to this sort of story telling, and can put the audience right in the story. This can help them to better relate to the people in the story and the lesson it conveys. Convert a story to second person when you want to engage the imagination of your audience.
Third Person
A story told in the third person is a story told about someone else. The downside to telling a story in third person is that the audience assumes you do not have personal experience in the matter, and they are not fully engaged (as in the second person). However, this type of story does have its place. If you are telling a story about someone the audience knows (or knows about), it may be important to leave it in the third person.

See the Wikipedia article on Point of View for more information.

Sample Story
In the Bible there is the story of a man who believed he was doing a good thing by killing all those who proclaimed that Jesus is God. The disciples and many other believers knew of this man and they were all very afraid of him. One day this man (who the Bibles calls Saul) was on his way towards Damascus to bring some of these people back to Jerusalem as prisoners. As he neared Damascus he was stopped by a bright light which seemed to shine from heaven and he heard a voice asking him why he was persecuting Him. He was so frightened he fell trembling to the ground, blinded by the light asking "who are you Lord?". He was given specific instructions by this voice and when he followed them he received his sight and became a converted Christian who preached eloquently and with much energy for the rest of his life, proclaiming the one true God to all who he could until his death.

b. Different audiences, ages, and purposes


Young children do not have the patience to sit through a long story, so make it short. It helps if you can involve them in the story. Have them stand up and do something, perhaps to demonstrate how a penguin walks (show them how and ask them to copy you) or whatever else you can have them do that will help your story progress. Make sure your vocabulary matches that of your audience. The point of storytelling is not to demonstrate how clever you are, it is to communicate an idea. If you're using multi-syllabic words (such as multi-syllabic) on a crowd of four year-olds, expect some blank stares followed by fidgeting and then pandemonium. Older children will feel like you are patronizing them if you ask them to show you how a bird flies. "C'mon! That's first-grade stuff!" They might not say it, but they will sure think it (and some will say it!)

You can use one story to make more than one point by stressing different parts of it. The story of Jonah can be used to stress the importance of obedience, how we cannot run away from God, the love God has for other people, or how enormous a whale is. Each of these points can be made with the same story by stressing different aspects of it.

c. Making the story shorter


There are many reasons to make a long story short, including the attention span of your audience, the point you are trying to make, or the amount of time you have allotted to tell the story. Stories can be shortened by skipping over details, eliminating sub-plots, withholding background information, or any combination of the above.

In this case you can include visual aids that will cause the children to remember the story and your reason for telling that story. Enlist the help of parents to continue that story for that week's devotions especially if the story is a Bible story - they could all study that story for their devotion as well.

d. Making the story longer


Making a story longer can be done by adding extra details, adding side-stories, including background information, or any combination of the above. It may be necessary to include background information so the audience can understand why a character makes the choices he does. Sometimes you may be asked to occupy an audience until the next portion of a program is ready (it happens). There is a certain amount of skill involved in lengthening a story while keeping it interesting.

5. Tell why a definite aim is necessary in telling a story.


If a story does not have an aim, it is idle entertainment. If it has an aim, it can teach a lesson or get a message across. Often, it can accomplish this without being "preachy." A good storyteller can get a message or a lesson across without the hearers even suspecting that they've been preached to.

The aim can also be one of education. Telling the story of a Bible character or church leader can educate the listeners about the way of life, thought processes, character of the person. A life lesson or moral to the story is not always needed to have an aim. The preacher uses stories in his sermon for many reasons and sometimes it is just to keep his audience attentive and sometimes as is more often than not to get their emotions flowing and their thought process following his leading. The same with the story teller, your aim may be different but at the end the children should be able to tell you how they have learned from your story without you having to tell them or you just wasted you time and theirs.

6. Tell one story of foreign missionaries, not less than five minutes in length.


There are many good stories about Adventist missionaries. Norma Youngberg has written many books chronicling missionary adventures in the South Pacific. Eric B. Hare wrote of many of his experiences working in Burma and India before (and during) World War II.

The Hall of Faith series published by the Pacific Press is another good source of foreign missionary stories. They may be out of print, but you can find used copies at

If you are a Sabbath School teacher you may wish to spend a little time each week telling a continuing mission story to your class. If you are not a Sabbath School teacher, talk to one about telling a mission story in class. In either case, try to choose a story from the mission field being emphasized by the General Conference (this changes quarterly).

7. Tell one story that teaches health principles.


You may wish to draw from personal experience, or from other sources. Many people have stories about sneaking a cigarette and getting sick. The story of Daniel's refusal to eat from the king's table is an excellent source as well.

Sample Story
This is the story of a little boy who loved candy and would not heed his grandmother's warning about eating more than one piece per day. Grandma, knowing of his love for candy, hid it in one of the cabinets. It did not take him long to figure out where the candy was though. One day when she was asleep, he climbed upon a chair and took down his grandmother's jar of candy and sat down to enjoy himself. He planned to have only one, but each one became one more until the jar was empty. When he realized that the jar was empty he hid the jar behind the cereal boxes as if nothing had happened. That night he could not sleep because he had a stomach ache. He cried from the pain and when his grandmother asked him what was wrong he could only tell her that his stomach hurt. Grandma in her wisdom went to check the candy jar. Finding it empty, she knew what was wrong with him. She gave him some tea to soothe his stomach and when he woke up the next morning and he saw that Grandma had placed the candy jar on the kitchen table. He knew that his grandmother knew. She talked to him about his disobedience and how his health was affected because he was not obedient to her and that he had also been disobedient to God's command.