Tag Archives: storytelling

The Bible in Transmedia: A New idea for Youth Ministry?

I was getting my weekly fix of tech news by way of BBC click this morning and I was struck by one of the reports on Transmedia.

Transmedia is the technique of telling stories across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. This concept is not new as I remember when I was in 6th year at school (a good 12 years ago now) signing up to receive e-mails from Patrick Bateman, the serial killer (or is he?) from the brilliant subversive novel ‘American Psycho‘. I had enjoyed the book so much that I had signed up for this extra feature to continue to feed my Bateman fix.

Things have moved on since then and with the rise of augmented reality, apps and social media, transmedia is going from strength to strength with authors now building on the universe of the novel for those interested in going deeper.

As I watched this, I started thinking to myself, could this be the next big thing in christian youth ministry? Could we start creating transmedia bible stories? Now, I know that the natwivity (the nativity story told through twitter) has been running for a couple of years and this gives ‘twitterers’ the opportunity to see the story in a new perspective but I’d like to see things go further. Because the simple truth is, many young people do not engage with the bible.

We started the ‘beautiful disciplines’ series at our youth fellowship last night and, as part of the introduction, you get everyone to fill out a God Audit (or as a I prefer a Godit). One of the questions asks about where you are in your relationship with God and what you would like to improve on. Almost of the young people said they would like to read the bible more.

Why is it that young people are not engaging with it?

There’s a variety of reasons and this isn’t the blog post to go into that. There are far better blogs out there that wrestle with these questions. The question I am more interested in is how do we change that?

I believe transmedia could be an option. Imagine your young people are studying the story of Jonah. They get to the point where he is swallowed up by the fish and then they go on facebook or twitter and add/ follow Jonah and ask him how he felt about that. Whilst they are waiting for his response, they can read his status updates, stream a video journal of Jonah from inside the fish or be directed to his blog that he wrote whilst inside. Once they’ve digested all this info, they can go back to the bible, finish the story and repeat the steps.

Is this a viable option for youth work? Could this help young people engage with the history stories, the letters of Paul, the prophecies of the prophets, better?

I’m not sure. But it’s an interesting idea and one worth exploring.

Storytelling Thoughts: A Fresh Perspective

Last Saturday I attended ‘starting with stories 2’ at the Scottish Storytelling Centre (i thoroughly recommend it for anyone interested in developing their storytelling skills).

Throughout the day we were given a number of different tips for developing stories and making them more interesting.

One area that stuck out for me was telling the story from a different perspective.

Our group chose the story of the ‘three little pigs‘ and one of us began telling the story from the part of the narrator (the main way this story is told). About a minute later, the ‘teacher’ rang a bell and the next person in the group had to pick up the story but tell it from the point of view of the pig. Another minute later, I then continued the story from the point of view of the wolf, and so on.

For me, this helped to establish the other characters and also bring a fresh perspective to the story. I’m so used to telling stories from the perspective of the narrator but I found it far more interesting to tell the three little pigs story from the viewpoint of the wolf. It brought new depth to it.

At our Sunday night group, we are sharing the parables of Jesus.

here are links to the story of the sower and the prodigal son.

Both of these stories I’ve told from the narrators point of view but now I want to begin to experiment from different perspectives and see what new things can come out of the story.

Thoughts? Have you had experience of telling any familiar stories from a different angle?

I’ll share some other tips in a later post.

The Sower

The teacher informs the class that they have a test on Monday. He tells them what they need to study and the sort of questions they will be asked.

Some of the class are sitting chatting to one another and don’t even hear the teacher talking.

Another bunch hear the teacher and plan to study at the weekend. But as soon as they leave the class it goes out their head.

Others hear the teacher, and also plan to study at the weekend. Saturday evening comes and they sit down to study but they get a text from a mate telling them about a party that’s happening that night. The books gets closed and they forget all about it.

The final group hear the teacher, plan to study and sit down saturday night to do so. They also hear about the party invite but plan their studying around it.

Monday comes along. Who passes the test?

David and Bathsheba reimagined.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to give a talk on the story of David and Bathsheba at a Scripture Union weekend for teenagers.

I’d heard people talk on this story many times. But does the story of a king’s fall into adultery resonate with teenagers. I decided to reinterpret the story. My entire talk would simply be the story, re-imagined. David and Bathsheba as two sixth year pupils. It went down really well. You could hear the silence in the room. Afterwards the group broke into discussion groups and many of the leaders afterwards came up to me and said how much the story had affected the young people and how it provoked such great discussion.

I don’t say these things to big myself up but simply to show that the story worked for these young people. Which is why I’ve decided to finally write down a simple draft of the story for others to use if they see fit. It’s just the bare bones of the story. feel free to add to, remove bits from it. do whatever works best for your group. It’s simply the blueprint. I have changed certain situations but I feel that these are still true to the original narrative.

I love stories. And I think one of the greatest things we can do for the biblical stories is to refresh them and to orally tell them in ways that resonate. I believe that this is one way to tell the story. Later this year, I’m going on a couple of storytelling workshops and I hope to begin translating some more of the biblical stories into good oral stories that reflect the culture of the young people I work with.

Let me know your thoughts on the story.

The Story of David and Beth

Let me introduce you to a guy called David. He’s a sixth year at the local secondary school. House Captain, prefect, good at sports, maths, english. You get the idea. The best thing about him is that he doesn’t boast about anything of it. He’s a good guy to know.

David’s two best mates are James and Beth. David and James have been friends since they started school. they’re inseparable. Beth started hanging out with them at secondary school when James started dating her in 2nd year.

When James was seven, his parents split up and so every second week, he goes to visit his dad down in Portsmouth. One Friday lunchtime, after James has already left to go see his dad, Beth and David sit round the back of the school lying out on the grass. It’s another heatwave. It’s been like this the last few days. Too hot to anything. So they just sit on the grass, talking.

David looks round at Beth. The sun makes the skin on her legs glow. She glances round at him and he looks away. David’s always fancied Beth. He’s been out with a few girls but none of them ever hold up the vision he has of her. The truth is he’d ask her out in a second if she wasn’t going out with his best mate. If only he’s met her before James started-

“you okay?” beth asks. his thoughts are broken by her question.
“yeah I’m fine.” david replies.
“what you going to do tonight?” she enquires.
“was thinking about going out for a few.”
“yourself?”
“depends whose out. why, you wanna come?”
“I shouldn’t. James said he’d phone later.”
“Oh gone. just for a couple.”

She should have said no. That would have been the end of it. But she didn’t. They agreed to meet at 7.30 at the bar in the centre of town. They sit and have a couple of drinks together. But that soon turns in a few and before they know it, they find themselves stumbling out of a club just after 2am.

They’re giggling and laughing. Beth falls back and lands up against a wall. She feels David’s breath on her neck. She’s too drunk to think any better. They have sex there against the wall, in the side street. Afterwards, they stumble home, ashamed of what they’ve done.

It’s weeks later. David and Beth have tried to act like nothing’s happened but things aren’t the same. there’s an awkwardness around them. A sense of guilt. David betrayed his best friend.

David’s in his room on facebook one night when Beth messages him. She says they need to talk. can she come around. What could it be? has james found out? He panics.

Later, there is a knock at the door. David goes down to answer it and Beth is standing there.

“Come on in”, David says. They go up to his room. He shuts the door.
“So?”
“I don’t know how to say this David. I’m pregnant.”
“How do you know? Is it James’?”
“No.”

Time stops.

“It’s mine? How can it be mine?” How can you be sure?”
“You’re the only one I’ve had sex with”.
“And you’re sure?”
“I took three tests.”

David panics. What’s he to do? His life will be ruined. He’ll lose his best mate. The teachers will be disgusted with him. he’ll lose the respect of everyone at the school.

“You need to get rid of it.”
“No, I’m not going to kill my baby”.
“Well I need time to think.”

Beth leaves. David thinks about it for hours. What is he going to do? Then he has an idea. An idea that will clear them both. If Beth tells everyone that james raped her when they were both drunk, they’re saved. Beth won’t be known as a slut and David’s reputation will be saved.

David goes round to see Beth and tells her the plan. She is appalled by it and refuses to go along with it. But David persists. What will her parents think? What will the school think? This is a way for both of them to be free from it. And James will get out in a couple of years. It won’t be so bad. So she finally agrees. there’s no other way.

The next night, when Beth’s parents are out, she invites James round and they both get horribly drunk. James passes out. He wakes up to screaming. Beth is on the floor, her shirt torn. He can’t quite make out what she’s saying at first. Rape. Is she saying rape? He doesn’t remember anything. He wouldn’t have done that would he?

The case goes to court. James pleads guilty. he doesn’t remember what happened but Beth is so sure. He can’t believe he would do a thing like that but Beth wouldn’t lie about it. James gets three years.

Beth has her baby and goes to college whilst her mum looks after her little girl. David goes to Cambridge, far away from everything that happened. Some nights he cannot sleep. the guilt bears down on him so hard sometimes that he cannot breathe. But he still has his reputation. It was worth it wasn’t it?