Monday, January 10, 2011

Truth That Sticks: How to Communicate Velcro Truth in a Teflon World

Literacy rates are on the decline and Attention Deficit Disorder is on the increase in America and around the world. With such a culture, there are many people who can not or will not pay attention to a traditional sermon. Truth That Sticks introduces an alternative form of communicating Biblical truth: Bible-storying. Bible-storying takes the parable approach sometimes used by Jesus when he taught. The basic steps of Bible-storying involve: telling a story from the Bible, asking questions about it or asking someone in the group to retell the story, and letting conversation about the story flow. This method is particularly suited to small group settings.

I chose to read Truth That Sticks because I work as a children's church teacher and there have been times I have taught a lesson and then wondered if the children even heard what I was saying. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this book. The book gave some wonderful ideas about how to tell Bible stories and get children or adults to remember them. Since remembering the stories and applying the concepts of the story to the individual's life is basically the point of children's church, I found this portion of the book very helpful.

This book also challenged me to compare modern church services with the early church in the Bible. I can not say that I completely agree with the authors of this book. They advocate that Bible-storying should be the main way of communicating Biblical truth for today's church. I think that using Bible stories is a unique and useful tool for communicating Biblical truth, but I don't think it should be the only or main way a church communicates truth. I know that Jesus told parables (stories), but he also read and elaborated on Scriptures. The apostles of the early church also used Scriptures, not only stories, to minister to the church. The New Testament epistles, written by leaders of the early church, are filled more with discourse than stories. While the facts about decreasing literacy rates are compelling, I think that the traditional reading of Scripture and elaborating on the Scriptures still has its place. In my opinion, Bible-storying is best suited to small groups, not to a regular church service.

The authors did an admirable job of going beyond just Bible-storying and advocating that the church must reach out into the world. The statistics they gave were alarming. Six out of eight teens will leave the church directly after high school graduation. The book does not attempt to tackle all the problems of the modern church, but it does convince the reader that the church is failing to reach today's youth. Although, I did not personally agree with everything advocated in the book, I did find that reading this book caused me to have a greater desire to reach out to those around me.

One omission that alarmed me about this book is that they gave no examples of people who did Bible-storying and didn't have a wonderful experience. In all the examples, the people did great. I know that the Holy Spirit can help people to effectively tell Bible stories, but I also know that there is no way every single attempt at Bible-storying could be met with wonderful, positive results. It's just the way life is, sometimes you prepare as best you can, you pray, you tell the Bible story, and still fall flat on your face when teaching. I think that it would have benefited the book if the authors added stories of failed attempts and then pointed out how to do it more effectively.

In the end, whether or not you agree with the authors' premise, it's a book that gives beneficial advice on telling Bible stories and I will keep the book for that reason.

To read a sample from Truth That Sticks, click here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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