This post will not be a complete study of either narrative, storytelling, or discipleship. However, I’d like for us all to take a moment to consider the intersection of these three: narrative, storytelling, and discipleship.
To begin, think about Scripture. By a wide margin, the most used genre in Scripture is narrative. Even those parts of Scripture that are not directly narrative (prophecy, psalms, proverbs, epistles) are written within a narrative framework.
Next, consider Jesus’ primary means to teaching: storytelling. He told short stories called parables which had a meaning deeper than the story itself. There are other examples of storytelling withing the narrative of Scripture. For example, consider Nathan confrontation of David which was done through a story. The prophets often voiced their revelation in story form.
How does this relate to discipleship? Well, in spite of the proliferation of narrative in Scripture and the use of story by the characters in Scripture, the most used method of discipleship today is through principles, explanations, or commands. (By the way, I think teaching/discipling by example is related to teaching/discipling by storytelling.) Could we be missing something?
I believe that we are missing something, and I believe that our understanding of God, of who we are, and of our relationship with one another is reduced by a lack of story. (By the way, I’m not talking about the occasional practice of sharing testimonies. I believe that “testimonies” can be good, but they are also limited. I’m talking about sharing both true stories from our life and sharing parable type stories that may not be true.)
What do you think about teaching and discipling by story? Do you have any suggestions that would help people use stories, narratives, and parables more while discipling others? Or, do you think I’m wrong and that we should stay away from stories and narrative?