BOOK REVIEW – Storytelling: Sharing the Gospel With Passion and Power

Not just for children!

Storytelling is one of the most ancient ways of communicating a message and bringing people together. Even now in our tech-driven society, we love to see how children are enthralled by a good story. But have you ever considered that telling stories could be a powerful way to share gospel truths, not just with children but with adults too? This book is a thought-provoking look at a fresh way of communicating gospel truths in our modern world.

“Stories have a wonderful way of sticking in people’s memories and continuing over the years as God’s instrument for speaking into our lives.”

Connecting with the heart

Martin Goldsmith spent many years sharing the gospel among Muslim Malay people and has since spent time working back in the UK. He uses these experiences to open up different worldviews, showing how storytelling is a powerful tool for any follower of Jesus to have in their belt.

Storytelling explores the importance of being able to communicate both sacred and secular stories in such a way that brings theoretical claims about our faith to life. In fact, much of Jesus’ teaching was done through stories and parables. As post-enlightenment thinkers we can easily overemphasise the importance of being able to share our beliefs rationally, but neglect to share them passionately. Goldsmith makes the claim that stories will captivate people’s hearts and memories in a way that mere facts never will. Narrative theology is often much more accessible and memorable, not to mention much easier to share in day-to-day life and apply to the lives and needs of those around us. Because of this, people are also much more likely to re-tell them to family and friends, creating a ripple effect beyond the original story-teller.

A good starting point 

Perhaps most interesting to cross-cultural workers is chapter 3 which outlines specifically how the central doctrine in other major faiths (including Islam) are often passed down through stories. If I had one criticism of this book it would be that the whistle-stop tour through these religions and worldviews could have been fleshed out much more. It certainly serves as an introduction however, and expresses the point that storytelling has been widely accepted as a means of passing on theology for a long time. There are some very helpful examples of how we can tell and even adapt biblical parables to relate to those from different cultures without changing their meaning. Goldsmith explains how he was able to safely share biblical stories in this way in a situation where he was being watched by authorities who accused him of proselytising.

As you read on you will enjoy seeing how the author also tells well-known secular stories in a way that provokes searching questions and how he uses them as a bridge to passages from the Bible.

As an introduction to sharing the gospel through story-telling, this book raises more questions than provide answers, but these are questions it is certainly worth wrestling through as we seek to share our faith passionately and powerfully.

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