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Storytelling and Bible engagement

By September 4, 2015
(Photo courtesy Every Child Ministries)

(Photo courtesy Every Child Ministries)

Ghana (MNN) — Storytelling is one of the world’s oldest art forms.

A storyteller conveys the important concepts in words and sound, often by engaging the participant. That’s a really dry way to say “a storyteller shares an idea that sticks” by using music or getting people to jump in on the telling.

Lorella Rouster with Every Child Ministries just wrapped up a training seminar with the Ghana staff using this method. The idea, she said, was that “by involving the students in active methods, we find that they listen better to the Bible story, and they also remember longer.”

The theory is that music connects to multiple parts of the brain and accesses deeper pathways between neurons. That means a certain set of words or notes set to a recognized pattern (rhythm) connects quickly to stored knowledge (memory). Simply put: the rhythm of music and poetry increases recall, which makes it a great tool for learning Scripture and Bible stories.

When the kids engaged, they owned the information they were learning. The other benefit, added Rouster, is that they’ll never run out of material. “We’re teaching a method by which the teachers can teach directly from the Bible itself in an interesting way, even though lessons might not be available to them.” Sometimes, you just can’t be shy when you’re teaching a Bible story. Rouster explains, “A lot of them involve different forms of acting, and also, involving a lot of rhythm, both singing-type rhythm and speaking-type rhythm.”

(Screen capture courtesy Every Child Ministries)

(Screen capture courtesy Every Child Ministries)

The teachers and staff loved the new methods and put them to use immediately. The group surprised Rouster with a song they came up with for Romans 10:13 — “For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” She says, “Those songs have been going through my mind ever since they created them. I’ll wake up thinking about those songs and having it go through my mind, so I think they were very successful.”

(Photo courtesy Every Child Ministries)

(Photo courtesy Every Child Ministries)

Mission accomplished. It’s bittersweet. Rouster knows it’s time to hand off the baton of leadership. She asks prayer for the transition. But also, ”I think our main this prayer for our teachers that they will continue to be very actively involved in teaching children and that these new methods will help them reach out in new ways.”

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