(photo licensed by
(photo licensed by

How do people who rely on the spoken (rather than written) word do a three column bible study?

Answer: with a storyteller and their already existing group.

All cultures – and especially oral cultures – have storytellers. It is our job to find them, to teach them stories from the Bible, and to help them facilitate a discussion that is very similar to the written three column bible study.

Here is one way it can look:

  1. The storyteller tells the story. If we have done our job of teaching them the story, they will do their job of telling it.
  2. Their group re-tells the story. They may do this individually or in teams, with or without acting, etc. The only right way for the group to re-tell the story is their way.
  3. The storyteller asks three questions: what does this story say about God? what does this story say about us? if this story is true, what will you do differently?

Despite the similarities between this and the written three column study, the oral approach has one important advantage: it is a group process. As David Watson writes,

Groups…learn more quickly, remember more things and remember them better, replicate more quickly and when correctly established protect against heresy and protect against bad leadership.

Thanks go to Mike for suggesting this post. I hope it raises a bunch of questions that lead to many good discussions. So please share your comments with reckless abandon!

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