Learning to P-A-S-S
A guest post by Heather Roth Johnson
Have you ever asked a Bible story question to a group of Elementary Sunday School kids? Sometimes you get a brave soul to answer. But often, the question is met with blank faces and shrugged shoulders.
One Sunday, I gathered up a group of kids to read the story about Jesus’ baptism. But instead of follow up questions, we used the Vibrant Faith Visual Faith images to spark our discussion on baptism and self-identity.
Each kid was asked to pick three images: one about themselves, another about their dad or grandfather, and the last one about God. What followed was a storytelling event. Funny, insightful stories where kids were quick to make human connections that expressed feelings and faith.
Now, here is the amazing part: Not one child passed up the opportunity to share their story. No blank faces or shrugged shoulders. In fact, the kids were easily becoming storytellers of the faith!
What I learned is that this Sunday School lesson provides a formula on how to host a simple faith storytelling education in our congregations. In 45 minutes, people can build confidence in faith storying. It’s all about learning how to P-A-S-S:
+ Begin with P, prayer. Always begin with prayer. It easy to forget this step, but prayer has the power of invitation. It strengthens our connection with God, keeps our hearts and minds focused, and increases our awareness of God’s presence. Prayer is the practice to help us remember that we are not alone.
+ Then move in with A, anomaly. Each person has, what I call, a story anomaly within them, that unique quirk that makes them different than other people. Use images, wordles, poetry, and Bible stories to spark imagination. Ask open ended questions to help people unpack their story anomaly.
+ Develop an S, small group. People feel at ease to share stories when two things are present: they have something in their hands, like a pencil, food or a cup of coffee, and when they are with a small group of people they can trust. Do both!
+ End with an S, share. We are storytelling people. It’s a part of our DNA. But we need to fine tune our faith storytelling skills. Challenge people to be able to tell their faith story in under one minute. Practice and repeat it with each other. Knowing your story from memory makes it easier to share it.
Stories have the power to connect us to our past, find meaning for the present, and shape us as we move forward into the future. As people of God, we have the greatest story ever told. It’s a story that offers hope and invites us to experience God, who is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 145:8). God’s story assures us that God is alive in the world and that God’s plan is to save the world (John 3:16). Our job is to PASS it on!
Learn more about the Visual Faith card sets and grab your own pack here.