If you have been a Christian for very long, you have faith stories that can help your students. Maybe there was a time when you became very aware of God working in our world or answering prayers. Perhaps you remember a moment when you really noticed God’s handiwork in creation. Or what about the times you or your friends learned God’s commands and principles really are in our best interest? Or maybe you found a helpful way to avoid sinning when tempted with a particular temptation.
Any of those stories can potentially help your Bible class students. While the Bible is always the ultimate source of wisdom, sometimes hearing the stories of those we know can help us understand how what the Bible teaches still applies in our world today.
Often we don’t share our faith stories because we think they are common to everyone. Or perhaps you think your stories are boring. To young students with little life experience, every story has the potential of an adventure – if told carefully.
So what are some things to keep in mind if you want to tell a personal faith story to your students?
- Keep it short. Five minutes or less – one to three minutes for young children or those new to story telling. In general, it’s better to have students ask interested questions about a story that was too short, than have them miss the point because they stopped paying attention.
- Always tell the truth. “Preacher” stories will come back to haunt you. Don’t take someone else’s story or an urban legend and try to make it sound like it really happened to you. Or make up a story entirely and tell it so it sounds like it actually involved you. If and when the students catch your lie, your credibility will be severely undermined.
- Write it down. Unless you are experienced at story telling, write down the story and edit it. Does it make sense? Is the spiritual point you want students to learn made clear? Does it need more humor or fun details? Keep editing it until it’s like you want it. You might even ask a friend to take a look at it and make suggestions.
- Keep your students in mind. What interests them? What would seem exotic to them might be something that happened to you in New York City or out in the wilderness. Not every story will resonate with every student. Since you probably have multiple experiences that had the same impact on you, try to pick the story that will most likely interest your students.
- Practice telling it to the mirror. If you are nervous about telling the story, practice will help. Remember though, it happened to you – so it’s not likely you will forget it. If the wording is a little different when you tell it, don’t worry too much.
- Don’t gauge the story’s success by student reaction. Remember, although you want them to be engaged, the main purpose is that they learn something important that God wants them to know from your story. If they remember the story and the point, it’s not as important that they tell everyone you are the best story teller in the world. On the other hand, if they laugh and cheer, but miss the spiritual point, your story missed the mark in some way.
Don’t rob your students of the opportunity to learn from your life story. Sharing appropriate stories of how you have learned to have faith in God, worship Him, obey and serve Him, can help your students understand the practical implications of what they are studying in scripture. Try using the tips above and see what happens.