Jerry Wiles on An Orality Learning Journey – Getting Back to the Basics

Bible Storying/Orality Training on a boat on the Amazon River in Brazil

What may have been a seemingly insignificant and obscure conversation among a few church/mission leaders about orality, oral cultures and oral learners back in the 1970s and ‘80s, has become an important movement in the global mission world.  While the terms may be new to some, the concepts of orality, oral art forms and Bible storying are thousands of years old.  In fact, they are the most effective ways that people have learned and communicated from the beginning of time.  It’s how Jesus and His early followers communicated the Gospel and made disciples.  Oral methods are primarily how the Good News of Jesus spread throughout the entire populated world in the First Century, before radio, television, the internet and the printing press.

Methods of Behavior Change

Orality-based methods are amazingly effective for communicating Scripture and disciple making. Various aspects of the spoken word, oral art forms and Bible storying are being used to reach the 80 percent of people globally who are oral learners by necessity or by preference. Most of the unreached and unengaged people groups around the world are living in oral cultures. However, there are many literate and well-educated people who are still oral-preference learners and communicators. Telling stories, asking questions and processing in community are powerful methods of behavior change.  It is about getting back to the basics that we learn from Jesus and the Early Church.

Reproducing Followers of Jesus

It has been, and continues to be, an amazing journey as we have incorporated Bible storying into the work of Living Water International. In 2006, LWI started using Bible storying in staff devotions. Then, in 2007, after getting connected and involved with the International Orality Network (ION), the ministry launched Orality Training Workshops.  The early model was known as “An Introduction to Contextual Bible Storying.”  It was based on participants learning and retelling five stories from the Gospels.  We discovered that with those five stories, with the appropriate pre- and post-story discussion and dialogue, we could give a community or village a simple, systematic theology of the most important things they need to know to become followers of Jesus.  Not only that, but they could become reproducing followers of Jesus.  It was not designed to be a comprehensive program, but to get people on the journey of following Jesus and sharing His life with others.

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SOURCE: Assist News Service, Jerry Wiles