Yes! The new book is now published and available! It is called “Storytelling – sharing the Gospel with passion and power” and it is published by IVP. In recent months I have been struck by how often the subject of storytelling has come up in conversation, articles I have read or in up-to-date books. It is clearly a highly relevant means of communication in our postmodern society.
In Jewish thought teaching is given by halachah (legal teaching) and by haggadah (more narrative or pictorial teaching). This lies behind God’s revelation in the Bible which teaches both by straight legal and theological material and also in historical and parabolic ways. Together with the story-form and pictorial communication God also uses dramatic action with prophets hiding cloth in the ground, lying on their side for a long time etc. As Christians we need to follow this biblical model and learn to use stories more.
In normal everyday life traditional stories play a significant part in forming people’s minds. Children grow up with pantomime stories and other old fables. Christian children learn the vivid biblical stories of creation, Noah’s ark, Daniel in the lion’s den and other exciting tales. They may not understand the theological or even the moral significance of these stories and may not be able to fit them into the overall history of the Bible. But such stories at bed-time and with parents on the sofa influence children as they grow up. Most of us have experience in telling stories to children, but sometimes we are unduly shy to use stories with adults. Our media and politicians, however, influence our views on homosexuality, abortion or other issues by emphasising one particular heart-rending story which draws out our sympathy.
We live today in a globalised world with people of a wide variety of faiths from all over the world. At school our young people learn a little about the main religions, but sometimes fail to note the stories which lie behind the religious beliefs of these different faiths. Thus Buddhist children may be brought up with the Jatakas, the record of the former reincarnations of the Buddha. Hindus are fascinated by the exciting stories of the epic scriptures with the stories of the various deities, their battles and their loves. Muslims are reared on the Sirat, the record of the life of Mohammed. Jews will remember the story of our slavery in Egypt, God’s saving work in bringing us out from Egypt across the Red Sea and through the wilderness with the giving of the Law on Sinai. In the former Soviet Union children were fed stories of ‘Uncle Lenin’ and in China the epic story of the Long March inspired multitudes.
I hope and pray that this new book may inspire and encourage people in the use of stories. Do get a copy direct from IVP or through Amazon – read it, give it to people for Christmas or as a birthday present, lend it to your friends and in your church.