Your Guide to Learning a New Story
Whether you are learning a story on your own or in a group, there are seven steps to help you learn, remember, and retell the story. After you are finished watching the videos, pick a learning method get started with your favorite story.
7 Steps to Learning a Story with Others
Leading a Story Group is an excellent way to connect your faith with those around you. It doesn’t matter where someone is on their journey, whethera life-long Christian or just hearing the gospel for the first time. Telling the Bible through story is a conversational way to examine the entire breadth of Scripture while staying focused on the Word and trusting that “so my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.” (Isaiah 55:11 CSB)
The goal of a Story Group is devotionally focused. Each meeting should include:
- welcoming new people and sharing about personal experience sharing previous stories with others,
- worship through prayer, music, and/or recognizing God’s work in your life,
- listing to the Word by telling and learning the story, focusing on the story’s content,
- and working through the discussion questions that help focus on the meaning and application.
When leading a Story Group, preparation is important.
- Practice your story so you feel comfortable telling it. It’s okay if you bumble a bit but you want to be familiar with the story so tell it out loud and to others. The steps in the video above are designed to help you learn the story on your own or use the audio or video and learn it with a partner. As your group grows, it’s a great opportunity to develop other leaders by rotating the responsibility of teaching the week’s story.
- Answer the discussion questions for yourself. How has God used this story in your own life?
- Select a song and/or prayer topics that connect to the story topic or theme.
- Select a learning method from the list below that you think fits the story best. Some stories with lots of people work well with Props while action-focused stories work well with Drama, and stories with lots of dialogue work well with Chunks or Popcorn. There are multiple options and you know your group. Don’t pick the same learning method every time.
After you’ve opened your group with welcome and worship, it’s time to learn the story.
- Ask a volunteer to tell the previous story.
- Introduce the new story by telling the story slowly two times.
- Review the story. The group works together to recall the story, focusing on the events in the story and their sequence. Learning methods great for review are popcorn, hot potato, or pass the “talking stick.”
- Tell the story again with another learning method.
- Pair the participants and have them tell the story to each other. The goal is to have each person tell the story at least once. Take the time and wait for the slowest group. Pairs can practice until each group has finished.
- Have a volunteer tell the story. They should be able to tell it without missing or distorted parts.
The final part of a group is the Discussion Questions. Start with these but you aren’t limited to these. One of the ground rules that can be helpful is to limit the conversation to just what occurs in that day’s story. This helps make everyone feel like they have something to contribute and know the answers. People newer to faith can shut down when they feel like they don’t know enough to participate.
- What did you like about the story?
- What did you not like about the story? OR What did you find difficult or confusing about the story?
- What does the story tell us about people?
- What does the story tell us about God/Jesus?
- What does the story tell you about yourself? OR After hearing this story, what do you think needs to change in your life?
- How will you remember the story?
- To whom will you tell the story to this week? (Homework assignment – Everyone should have 5 people they tell every story to. It doesn’t have to be the same people every week, but they should tell the story out loud over the course of the next week to help them remember it in the future. The first few times a person tells the story, it’s not always perfect. Just saying it out loud and fumbling through it will allow a person to get better and remember the details.)
Learning Methods to Help You Retell the Story
There are multiple ways to help you learn the story. Some learning methods may work better for you than others. Some work really well when learning on your own. Others work better when you are in a group. Try each method to figure out which one helps you the most.
Speaking / Hearing methods
- Chunks — Retell the story chunk by chunk. Often this method is used to build the story progressively by listening to a portion of the story. Tell that portion (chunk). Listen to the next section. Retell the first chunk and add the next chunk. Continue the process until you’ve built the entire story. You can also omit listening to the story again, and simply build the story, chunk-by-chunk.
- Popcorn — In a group, a person tells a small bit of the story. Another person tells the next part & the process continues until the story is completely retold. The storyteller doesn’t call on anyone, but just lets people volunteer. If the person skips part of the story, the storyteller makes sure that someone else tells the skipped part of the story the person continues.
Physical (Whole Body / Inanimate Objects) methods
- Drama — Act it out, being sure to represent all the characters and places.
- Duck, Duck, Goose — All the players, except the first person who is the first storyteller, sit in a circle. The storyteller walks around the circle, tapping each player on the head or shoulder, saying “duck” each time until he decides to tap someone and say “goose.” The “goose” tells part of the story, and then becomes the new storyteller who will select the next person by walking around the circle. Repeat the process until the entire story is retold.
- Hand Motions — This is not the same as sign language in which every word or phrase is represented. Instead each hand motion represents a thought or an idea that will prompt you to remember a portion of the story.
- Living Statues — Strike a pose to represent an idea from the story. A sequence of poses will help you remember the entire story.
- Things in my pocket/Things in the room/Props/Objects — Use everyday items to represent the people and places in the story. As you retell the story, move the objects to represent the actions of the people in the locations of the story.
- Storyboarding — Divide a piece of paper into a grid, like a tic-tac-toe board. In each square, draw a picture of a scene of the story. Continue drawing pictures until you’ve represented the entire story pictorially. No words allowed! You want to focus on the action of the story, not the particular words. Tell your story from the storyboard and then without the storyboard.