Grateful Storytelling

Have you ever felt like something was missing from your storytelling?  Maybe you’ve had a lesson where you’ve done everything right.  You’ve studied the Bible story and figured out the most engaging way possible to present it to kids.  You’ve put it in language they can understand.  You’ve pulled out sensory details from the story to bring it to life.  You’ve practiced in front of a mirror to make sure you’re bringing the most entertaining version of yourself to the story.  

But then you go to church, and the story falls flat.  What went wrong?  It could be a number of things, but I want to suggest today you might be missing one of the most important ingredients a storyteller can bring to their lesson.  

Believe me, I know all about missing ingredients.  My daughter’s birthday is right around Thanksgiving.  One year I made her a pumpkin pie for her birthday cake, and it looked absolutely picture perfect.  However, when my family dug into it, they were completely repulsed.  Turns out I’d left out the sugar.  

Trust me, unsweetened pumpkin pie is not the dessert you want for your birthday! Sure, it looked great, but the missing ingredient completely ruined it.  

So, what essential ingredient might be missing from your storytelling? Gratitude.  

If you’ve been teaching kids for much time at all, you know it’s easy to just go through the motions.  It’s easy to forget that these Bible stories aren’t just stories.  These events really happened to real people relating to a real God, and each time I open the Bible, it should remind me, overwhelm me, with just how good that God has been to me.  

1 Chronicles 16:8 says, “Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.  Let the whole world know what he has done” (NLT).

When we begin our teaching preparation with gratitude, it fuels us to tell God’s story with an urgency and passion that we will never have without it.  A grateful heart can’t help but gush about the goodness of God, and that holy enthusiasm is contagious!

So, the next time you’re preparing to teach, ask yourself this one simple question: what does this story make me grateful for today?  

  • If you’re teaching the story of Mary and Martha, maybe it will remind you that you are loved by the Creator of the universe.  Maybe you’ll be filled with thankfulness that Jesus wants to spend time with you, that He cares more about your being than your doing. 
  • If you’re talking about the Exodus, maybe it will remind you of how God rescued you from sin. It may inspire you to give thanks for the way He broke the chains of an addiction or delivered you from a season of hopelessness.  
  • If you’re telling the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus, maybe it will make you grateful for how God has forgiven and restored you time and time again.

Whatever story you’re telling, invite God to use it to remind you of all He has done and is doing in your life.  Respond to His goodness with gratitude and make your storytelling an act of worship flowing from a thankful heart.  

Like sugar in pumpkin pie, gratitude will sweeten every story you tell, and like all delicious desserts, it will leave the kids you serve wanting to come back for more.  

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